Astamahabhaya Tara, British Museum

Astamahabhaya Tara
The Statue of Astamahabhaya Tara or Cunda is a 10th-century bronze sculpture of the goddess Tara discovered in Sri Lanka. It is presently preserved in the Hugh Nevill Collection at the British Museum, United Kingdom.

Four-armed Cunda from the British Museum

Museum number : 1898,0702.132                         Cultures / periods: Anuradhapura
Production date   : 10th-century A.D.                     Production place : Sri Lanka
Materials               : Bronze                                       Technique             : Cast
Dimensions          : Height: 7.6 cm
                                 Width  : 2 inches 
Subjects                : Buddhist deity                          Associated names: Cunda
Reference              : British Museum Collection (1898,0702.132)

Tara Devi 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 worshipped 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; Wickremasinghe, 1912). The largest figure of Tara in the country is found in Buduruwagala (Gunawardana, 2019).

The statue
The statue has been identified as Astamahabhaya Tara (Wikramagamage, 1990). The figure has four arms and sits on a double-lotus pedestal in Satvaparyanka style (Wikramagamage, 1990). The front two hands are kept on the lap in the style of Dyana Mudra holding a bowl. The raised right hand carries a Japamala (garland) while the left hand carries the pot of ambrosia (Wikramagamage, 1990). The head is dressed with a Jatamakuta and in front of it is a symbol of Stupa. The lower body is covered with the Antariya (Wikramagamage, 1990).

The lotus pedestal of the statue bears the eastern Calukya style of Amaravati which belongs to the 9-10th centuries (Wikramagamage, 1990).


1) 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.
2) Jayawardene, S., 2016. Sri Lanka's Tārā Devī. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 61(2), pp.1-30.
3) 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.73.
4) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. p.103.

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This page was last updated on 1 January 2023

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