Saturday, January 30, 2021

Kurunegala Tara, Colombo National Museum

Kurunegala Tara statue
A statue of the goddess Tara was discovered from Kurunegala in Sri Lanka and presently, it is on the display at the National Museum of Colombo (Dohanian, 1983).

Goddess Tara
Tara is considered the most beloved goddess of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon (Jayawardene, 2016). She started to appear in the society of Sri Lanka around the seventh or eighth century A.D. and was worshiped until the fifteenth century A.D. (Jayawardene, 2016). Evidence for Tara worship in Sri Lanka is found in the Mihintale Slab Inscriptions of Mahinda IV (956-972 A.D.) where she is referred to as goddess Mininal (Gunawardana, 2019; Jayawardene, 2016). The largest figure of Tara in the country is found in Buduruwagala (Gunawardana, 2019).

The statue
This statue of Tara was discovered from Talampitiya in Kurunegala District (Gunawardana, 2019). It is a solid-cast, silver alloyed statue of 16.5 cm tall (Dohanian, 1983; Gunawardana, 2019).

The goddess is depicted here in the seated posture of Virasana and in the appearance of Samadhi [(meditation) Gunawardana, 2019]. The hair is gathered in an elaborate Jatamakuta and the empty niche in front of it once had a miniature figure of the Buddha (Dohanian, 1983; Gunawardana, 2019). The niche is surrounded by flame forms and below it are two heads of Makaras (dragons) with the mouths directed to the two sides (Dohanian, 1983). The eyes are shown half-closed but the facial expression is quite severe (Gunawardana, 2019). The upper body is naked and has no ornaments (Dohanian, 1983). The lower body is covered up to the anklets with a flimsy cloth. 
 
This statue has been dated by scholars to the 8-10th century A.D. (Dohanian, 1983; Wikramagamage, 1990).

References
1) Dohanian, D.K., 1983. Sinhalese Sculptures in the Pallava Style. Archives of Asian Art, 36, pp.6-21.
2) Gunawardana, N., 2019. Identify the statues of Goddess Tārā in Sri Lanka and Evaluate the Importance with Trade. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 9(9), pp.404-410.
3) Jayawardene, S., 2016. Sri Lanka's Tārā Devī. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 61(2), pp.1-30.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section II: 500-100 A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. IV: Sculpture. p.72.

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This page was last updated on 31 January 2021
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