The controversial bronze statue
The connoisseur of art and philosopher Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy has
said, "In the absence of other evidence, the identification of this
statue as Pattini may be provisionally accepted."
Archaeologist Vincent Smith has also confirmed that it is a statue of
But the British Museum, having given it pride of place among the
Asian statues continues to mislead the visitors by labelling it as
In 2006 A.D. the keeper of the British Museum J. Robert Knox said,
"This statue has been identified exclusively as Tara but I am unable to
tell with any accuracy when the first use of the name Tara occurred at
the British Museum. That information is just not available."
Armed with more information, my effort is to re-confirm that it is a
statue of Pattini and not of Tara.
The only documented reference regarding this statue is the
correspondence of Lady Brownrigg with the British Museum which says that
the statue concerned was found on the eastern coast, north of Batticaloa.
According to Siva Subramaniyam in the publication of Hindu Conference
2002, on Kannagi (Pattini) in the East Coast, it is said that after the
conquest of Jaffna by the Portuguese, seven statues of Kannagi Amma (Pattini)
had been brought by boat to Batticaloa and in the same publication it
states that two Chettipaaliyam families also have brought idols of
Kannagi from Kandarodai in Jaffna to Batticaloa. Also he quotes
Mattakalapu Sarithiram saying that on the request of the local chiefs of
Batticaloa, King Wimaladharmasuriya of Kandy had stationed Malay
soldiers to protect the Kannagi worship of the people of Batticaloa.
In addition to the destruction of Kovils by the Portuguese during
medieval history, three cyclones and five major floods recorded within
140 years could also have destroyed Kannagi-Amma kovils in Batticaloa.
The only historical and archaeological evidence of Tara is at
Dorawaka off the Warakapola - Anguruwella road in Sabaragamuwa and never
The belief among Buddhists in Sri Lanka is that Pattini is aspiring
to be a future Buddha one day after being born a man, until such time
she remains a-sexual. Also in one of the previous births of Pattini she
received divine assurance from previous Buddha Kausanda, that she will
one day achieve Buddhahood. If such is the case she does not need any
jewellery on her ears or around the neck. An a-sexual identity does not
need to attract a male counterpart, so could be depicted without any of
these jewellery as in the statue in the British Museum.
Whereas Tara, the consort of Avalokathiswara Natha should always be
adorned with all types of ornaments where her sacred gem is the diamond.
None of the Sadanas on Tara ever speaks of Tara are without jewellery
around her neck and on the ears.
When Maha Brahma offered to Tara, the choice of being born a man,
Tara had declined the offer and elected to remain in her womanly form
and be the consort to Avalokathiswara, the Maithree Buddha of time yet
to come. Unlike the guided statue at the British Museum, Tara statues
should be full of jewellery.
As the guilded statue does not adorn any jewellery it could be
concluded that it is a statue of Pattini exclusively.