Twenty-One Hymns to the Rescuer Mother of Buddhas


Also known as “Twenty-One Hymns to the Rescuer Saint Tārā, Mother of Buddhas,” this item is a sutra from Tibetan esoteric Buddhism. The copyist was Yong Rong (1744–90), sixth son of the Qianlong emperor and general editor of the Siku quanshu. In addition to being a poet, calligrapher, and painter, Yong Rong had a sophisticated understanding of astronomy and mathematics. On the top protective cover of this item is written, “Imperially commissioned translation of the hymn to the rescuer mother of Buddhas," in Manchu, Tibetan, Mongolian, and Chinese scripts. The calligraphy is excellent, the binding is extraordinary, and the quality of the paper is exquisite. At the end is inscribed, “Respectfully written by scion and servant to the throne Yong Rong.” The mother of Buddhas is an avatar of the bodhisattva Guanyin, and her image can be seen in many wall paintings and Tibetan thangka paintings. The 21 rescuer mothers of Buddhas are female deities honored by all sects of Tibetan Buddhism; they are the most beautiful and merciful female deities who release and rescue myriad beings from suffering. The most revered such deities in Tibet and Mongolia are the green and the white rescuing mothers, and many documents relating to them are extant today. No “Imperially commissioned translation of the hymn to the rescuer mother of Buddhas" is known to exist in Manchurian or Mongolian and the Buddhist canon does not include this text, making the documentary and cultural value of this item very high.

Last updated: January 3, 2018