ANCIENNE COLLECTION PARTICULIÈRE FRANÇAISE
Eighteenth and nineteenth century Mongolian bronzes that are often described as from the school of Zanabazar are relatively common, an Avalokitesvara in the Rietberg Museum for example, see Helmut Uhlig, On the Path to Enlightenment: The Berti Aschmann Foundation of Tibetan Art at the Museum Rietberg, Zürich, 1995, p. 103, cat. no. 55, whereas bronzes from the master’s atelier are extremely rare, outside of Mongolian and Chinese museums, monasteries and palaces. One of the few examples in a western museum collection is a seventeenth century standing Maitreya now in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, see Gilles Béguin and Dorjiin Dashbaldan, Trésors de Mongolie, Paris, 1993, p. 122, fig. 2, cf. the engraved design on the dais of the standing Maitreya with that of the lower tier of Tara’s pedestal. Meticulous attention to detail and breathtaking sculptural prowess distinguish the Sackler Maitreya and the Tara as masterpieces from Zanabazar’s atelier.
The effigy of Amitabha depicted on Tara’s crown associates the goddess with the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Lord of Compassion. Both deities are considered to be emanations of the Buddha Amitabha. Tara is worshipped by Buddhists as a saviour and liberator from samsara, the earthly realm of birth and rebirth. In Tibetan and Mongolian mythology, Tara, with her face “embodying the delicacy of a million lotus blossoms”, appeared from within a lotus bud on a lake of tears shed for the suffering of sentient beings by the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. This Buddhist tenet of compassion for all sentient beings is no better expressed than in this sublime sculpture of Tara from the atelier of Mongolia’s greatest artist, Zanabazar.
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