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The idea put forward in this article that the nudity of the figure was a subject of embarrassment is an anachronism, based entirely on contemporary (and subjective) feeling about the Victorians. There is no evidence yet discovered about how the sculpture was seen in the 1830s, when it was acquired. As with most ahistorical reactions, the modern one tells us more about the views of the people in the present (those who made a TV programme in this case) than it does about British people in the Regency. This section therefore needs some edits. Shirazibustan (talk) 08:20, 25 July 2014 (UTC)shirazibutan
Interesting ideas. Do you have sources for this as the article has a source for all the text it includes. Victuallers (talk) 14:29, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
Above in the box it says: that the Statue of Tara from Sri Lanka (partly pictured) was kept hidden for 30 years in the British Museum because it was considered too erotic. This is simply incorrect: there is no evidence. What 30 years are we talking about exactly? The Museum Secretum at the British Museum was created by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks and objects in it given an "M" number. The Tārā never had an "M" number. In addition the people who appeared in the television programme expressed their subjective views. The UK is a free country, so they are welcome to do so, but dinner party chatter, however stimulating, is not historical research. The footage even showed the 1847 copy of the letter, but they missed the original! It is in a volume called G&R Letters on Antiquities (1757-1834), kept in the Greek and Roman Department at the British Museum. They also missed the only near contemporary commentary on the sculpture, a coloured drawing from the 1840s: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pd/j/james_stephanoff_watercolour.aspx Right under their noses. Shirazibustan (talk) 15:32, 25 July 2014 (UTC)shirazibustan
You say there is "no evidence", but the head of the British Museum said "So you will hardly be surprised to learn that when Tara arrived at the British Museum, from Ceylon as it was then known, in the 1830s, she was seen as so dangerously erotic and voluptuous that she was at once put into the store-rooms, and kept there for 30 years, visible only to specialist scholars on request". Do you have a source to explain why he is mistaken? His opinion seems to me to be "evidence". Victuallers (talk) 21:42, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
There's a big difference between being in the Museum Secretum and just not being on display, for any number of reasons, like the majority of BM objects at any one time. Johnbod (talk) 22:40, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
I have investigated more and amended this article and the one on the Secretuum as I find that the evidence points to the idea that Victorian prudery is not a modern invention. The first Obscene Publications Act was in 1857 and this helped to formalise the Secretum. I hope to do a bit more to look in to this so do help. I prefer to improve the wiki rather than just debating its contents. Victuallers (talk) 08:21, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
This is an old chestnut. The Bodhisattva Tara notion is based on Tibetan Buddhism, particularly some of the iconographic guide books written in the 1930s. I wonder if it applies outside the Tibetan context, and if indeed it has any application there.Shirazibustan (talk) 08:22, 25 July 2014 (UTC)shirazibustan
What are you saying exactly? It isn't Tara? The BM disagrees. Johnbod (talk) 11:34, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
I was not clear, sorry! It is Tārā, but looking further today, I find that in Tibet, Tārā is not a bodhisattva, but a fully enlightened Buddha appearing in the form of a 16 year old woman. This is because, when a bodhisattva in previous aeons, she vowed to always reappear in female form. She is widely practiced as a yidam (iṣṭadevatā). The British Museum tradition of identification as a "Bodhisattva" does not rest on any published research but rather, near as I can tell, on Antoinette Gordon's 1939 Iconography of Tibetan Lamaism. That was a landmark book and still a hugely useful source, but Buddhist studies has moved ahead. So I suspect the entry will need some editing in due course. Shirazibustan (talk) 15:16, 25 July 2014 (UTC)Shirazibustan.
But then in Sri Lanka Tara probably was regarded as a bodhisattva; these designations were rather flexible across the range of Buddhism. I think the BM will be better informed and advised than you allow for, and they speak of recent developments re the subject here. We'd need a strong WP:RS to change anything. Johnbod (talk) 16:12, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
By the way, I should add that in Tibet she is famous as the protector from the Eight Fears, which if I recall are this-worldly things like tigers, fires, drowning, illness, poverty, cruel tyrants, etc. And she develops compassion and purifies evil karma and grants wisdom etc. However, in the south Asian context there seems to be less known, and I'll do some research on that so we can have appropriate WP : RS as noted above. Thanks. Shirazibustan (talk) 07:51, 26 July 2014 (UTC)Shirazibustan