Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dancing the Goddess: Masks for the 21 Praises to Tara

It is with the purpose of bringing benefit to beings in this world of chaos and confusion that the Mandala Dance of the Twenty-One Praises of Tara is offered.

It is in respect and gratitude to the Lineage holders of the various Tibetan Buddhist traditions who have maintained and embellished the ancient teaching of chanting the Praises of Tara.

It is in unity with the people of Tibet who universally call out to Tara, who chant Her Praises from childhood and who recognize in Her the Universal Mother and Protector.

It is in order to acknowledge the dignity and capability of women to accomplish the highest spiritual attainments that this Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara is offered.

May All Who See These Praises Danced Or Who Hear These Praises Sung Be Inspired To Attain The Highest Expression Of Humanity To Be Themselves The Embodiment Of Compassion And Wisdom.

Earlier this summer I was asked to consider creating a collection of masks for Tara Dhatu.  The magnitude of the project, which will entail going to Bali in the next year and working with Balinese mask artists in Mas, has been a bit daunting, along with trying to understand the specific ideas, images, and context for each Manifestation of Tara within the lineage, as well as personal style, Prema Dasara  has developed with her community.  So I recently created a new Blog to document (and invite feedback) the course of the Project.   Here's the link if anyone is interested:

The Blog will pursue a collaborative work in progress.  Composed of  sketches, comments, descriptions, and quotations, these materials will become a series of masks dedicated to the 21 Praises to Tara, the wonderful sacred  Mandela dances created by Prema Dasara, as well as  a book archiving the Project.  The masks will be used in devotional dance in June of 2015 at a Conference at the famous Buddhist Temple of  Borobodur.  Dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, the Temple compound is located in central Java, and  is a UNESCO World Heritage site.   It will be a great privilege to participate in this Project.

It is also my privilege to make, in this collaborative way, my own offering to Tara, who I know only in the most personal of ways, and to whom I shall always feel blessed by.  Here's my own story. 
 Tara Dhatu


What a wonderful journey this will be!   Some recent notes........................

This is a mask devoted to White Tara I had made to my design in Bali in 2000.  It belongs now to Lena Grace in Portland.  It was a successful collaboration with the carvers of Mas - beautifully carved, serene expression, and made big enough to be comfortable on most Western faces.

Stern Tara
I like this stern face.   Prema noted that she would prefer the Lightning Bolts are horizontal, which could be easily done in the course of painting the mask.

Serene Tara
This face derives from a sample mask I made for Prema in 2010.  She looks very Balinese to me, and very "vegetal", a face that belongs to the Lotus gardens.

 Moon Face

One of the Taras is specifically related to the Moon, and so this round, serene face would belong to Her.

Laughing Tara

This collage is actually derived from a mask I had made in Mas for the Japanese Sun Goddess Amaterasu.  The Balinese are familiar with this oriental, laughing face, and would have no problem doing it well - the odd nose on this mask is the result of my insistence that, when carving the mask, they make it big enough to fit a large Caucasian nose.  They had a tough time with that idea, but managed............

 Wrathful "Black Tara"

The images I have seen of Wrathful Tara are very similar, and no doubt reflect the same roots, to images of Kali - the skulls in the headpiece, extended "fang" teeth.  For that reason, this image is similar to "Kali", and I'm reticent to make the image prettier.......ferocity, and the banishing of demons, does not seem like it belongs to an attractive face............

Kali Performance 2010 (Photo courtesy Lena Grace)


Gail said...

I'm so happy this excitement has come into your life and appreciate you sharing it with us.

Gail said...

I am so happy this exciting adventure has manifested for you. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Wow, what a fantastic opportunity! Bali.... These masks and images are stunning!

lauren raine said...

Thanks so much. I am indeed excited about this project, and feel, finally, that I can envision how it could be accomplished. A great blessing............