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Ushnishasitatapattra – The Female Form of Thousand Armed Avalokiteshvara

Ushnishasitatapattra, the Goddess of the Victorious White Parasol, is a very powerful Deity in Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. Ushnishasitatapattra has the power to protect the suffering beings from all harm and destroys all sorts of evil spirits. It is believed that Ushnishasitatapattra is the special form of Goddess Tara, a female counterpart of the Thousand Armed form of Avalokiteshvara. Her iconography is perhaps one of the most complexes in the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon.

In the sculptures or paintings of Ushnishasitatapattra; she displays her hands and legs in multiple rows, including a tall stack of heads. Her impressive and awesome appearance is bolstered by her vigorous posture, emphasized by her wide brocade tent like skirt and long twisting silk scarves. Moreover she is adorned with celestial ornaments, and sash. Her slightly fierce mien does not outweigh the beauty of her form, her white color, and refinement of her oval face, idealized features. Her main right hand is holding a mirror and her remaining right hands are holding mirror, Vishva – Vajra, and many of them are in threatening gestures.

Her main left hand is holding her namesake, the staff of the parasol of protection, with many fluttering ribbons. Her remaining left hands are holding arrows, bows, axes, swords, and snakes. Beneath the broad fan – shaped spread of her feet lie swarms of squirming bodies of the world’s evil ones – demonic rulers, military men, and demigods – as well as dragon, flying rocks, animals and birds etc., all of which she keeps under control. Thus the devotees who worship her are always free from the shadow of evil spirits and led a peaceful and prosperous life. Behind her is flaming aureole.

Ushnishasitatapattra is a powerful independent deity. Ushnishasitatapattra manifests this power with her thousands faces, thousand arms and thousand legs. Each face has three eyes, and the palm and wrist of each hand has its own eyes. Ushnishasitatapattra displays them all in multiple rows, including a tall stack of heads in four different colors. Her impressive and awesome appearance is bolstered by her vigorous posture, emphasized by her wide billowing brocaded tent – like skirts and long, twisting, green scarves. Her slightly fierce mien does not outweigh the expressions of her lovely and benign nature – the beauty of her form, her white color, and the refinement of her small round face and tiny, idealized features.

Ushnishasitatapattra is popular with Geluk order in particular. Ushnishasitatapattra is often given a prominent position among the wall paintings in Gelukpa monasteries, such as Drepung in Lhasa.

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