Tara, the Buddhist Goddess of compassion, stands here in a gesture of ease
on a lotus pedestal. This particular posture of the Goddess where the head,
torso, and legs slant in contrary directions is known as tribhanga. The legs
and hips jutt to the right, the trunk to the left, and the neck and head
then again gently to the right. It is a lyrical, dreamy, very graceful pose.
The three curves formed by the body symbolize the three worlds, upper, lower
and middle, better known in Sanskrit
as triloka. This is also popularly
known as the posture of three bends.
The lower garment of the goddess is tightly wrapped around her legs and the
upper part of her anatomy is bare. In classical Indian aesthetics the
breasts are accentuated as a symbol of their nourishing potential, and the
hips are rotund and ample, as an indication of her child bearing capacity.
The Tibetan aesthetic is slightly different. Here the feminine charms of the
goddesses are subdued in the context of the physical body, but nevertheless
her compassion, grace, and boon of mercy are reflected in the language her
body speaks, whether be it her slight, brooding smile or the sophisticated
and suspended dynamic of her slender limbs.
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