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Gilded bronze figure of Tara
1830,0612.4
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This image is of the popular Buddhist goddess, Tara, the consort of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. Buddhism arrived in Sri Lanka in the third century BC and has a continuous history on the island to this day. Sri Lanka is today a Theravada Buddhist country, like Burma and Thailand. However, this, and other Bodhisattva images are evidence for the presence of Mahayana Buddhism alongside Theravada in Sri Lanka in the medieval period. This image is one of the finest examples of figural bronze-casting in Asia. It is solid cast in one piece and gilded. The eyes and the elaborately arranged hair were doubtless inlaid with precious stones. A small niche in the headdress would have contained a small seated image of the Buddha. The goddess is naked to the waist with a lower garment flowing to her ankles. Tara's right hand is shown in the position of varadamudra, the gesture of giving; her left hand is empty but may have held a lotus flower. This image was for a long time identified as the local goddess Pattini, whose cult is popular in Sri Lanka.

History of the Object
Found between Trincomalee and Batticaloa by Sir Robert Brownrigg.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Bronze 
Measurements
Height 143 cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Sri Lanka 
Geography
Sri Lanka 
Time period
AD 8th century ~ AD 8th century 
Creation date
8th Century 
Function
image of a popular goddess 
Acquisition
Donated to the Museum by Sir Robert Brownrigg in 1830. 
Copyright
Copyright the Trustees of the British Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The British Museum 
Museum
British Museum 
Credit line
Gift of Sir Robert Brownrigg 

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