Seated Tara, British Museum

Seated Tara, British Museum
A Statue of Tara belonging to the 7-8th century is presently preserved in the Hugh Nevill Collection at the British Museum, United Kingdom. Discovered in Sri Lanka, the statue represents the Buddhist goddess Tara in the seated position.

Seated Tara from the British Museum

Museum number : 1898,0702.142                         Cultures / periods: Buddhist/ Anuradhapura
Production date   : 7-8th century A.D.                    Production place : Sri Lanka
Materials               : Bronze/gold                             Technique             : Cast/ guilded
Dimensions          : Height: 15 cm
                                 Width  : 8.30 inches
                                 Depth  : 8.50 cm 
Subjects                : Buddhist deity                          Associated names: Tara
Reference              : British Museum Collection (1898,0702.142)

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, casted in a copper alloy and gilded, depicts the goddess Tara in Lalitāsana position (right foot directed downwards and the bent left leg over the seat). Her left hand rests on the seat outside the left thigh while the right hand rests on the right thigh depicting the Varda Mudra (Wikramagamage, 1990). The lower body is covered with an Antariya and a Dhoti and a band of cloth runs from shoulder to waist (Wikramagamage, 1990). The raised headdress (turban) is surrounded by a narrow crown (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.72.
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 2022

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