One of the afternoon workshops at KTD was dedicated to painting tsa tsas. The term tsa tsa refers to a figurine that represents a Buddha, and is made from clay or plaster. Tsas tsas are made by using molds with symbolic elements that characterize each deity; they might have a bell in their hand, or a certain type of flower, or might be displaying a special kind of mudra. At the beginning of the Tara Retreat, we received beautiful gifts and among them was a Green Tara tsa tsa. We painted them together under the loving direction of Ani Drolma-la, who very generously and lovingly made these for us. It’s important to share that making or painting a tsa tsa is not a handicraft per se, but rather a task that has as its objective, to become familiar with each and every detail of the deity’s image, thereby assisting us with visualizing it in our daily practice sessions.
In the tsa tsa workshop we wore an apron and face masks, used brushes to paint with, and had a variety of acrylics to choose from in a variety of colors. Our first step was to clean the figure of dust or remnant plaster without blowing on it. When cleaning our tsa tsa, we were invited to be conscious of cleansing our own negative actions at the same time. When painting it, we could recite the mantra associated with Green Tara, OM TARE TUTARE TURE SVAHA, while continuously putting our attention on incorporating her qualities and inviting ourselves to merge with her.
Each practitioner got to choose how they wanted to decorate their tsa tsa, by either painting it with one solid color or a variety of colors. Green-blue is the color associated with Green Tara. We also used gold and iridescent white. It’s good to have a stable hand when painting tsa tsas as they have many fine details. We used very thin brushes and combined colors until we created the desired tones we wanted for each detail.
Tsa tsas are placed on altars and are also used for special occasions such as the construction of a stupa. In the case of a stupa, large quantities of tsa tsas are placed inside it, along with other ritual objects.
During the elaborate process of making tsa tsas and decorating them, they can easily become damaged or break. If this should happen, it is not advisable to place them on your altar. Instead they should be put in a high place, above eye level, to avoid having imperfect images of the deity pressed into our minds. A tsa tsa with a deficiency may be placed near the celling or in the high branches of a tree, so that animals may benefit from having contact with them.
We are hoping that our newly painted tsa tsas make it back home safely so that they can be placed on our altars and be a source of benefit and inspiration to all who see them!
RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014
Writers / Escritores
Translator / Traductora
Editors / Editores
Photographs / Fotografías
Coordinators / Coordinadores
Ven. Tenzin Dapel