Golden Tara of Butuan


The Golden Tara of Butuan, also known as the Icon of a Storied Past (the pre-colonial times of Butuan), is a gold figurine of a “Tara” (or escort goddess from the Buddhist Pantheon). It was found by a Manobo native along the Wawa River in Central Agusan in 1917. This artifact was subsequently acquired by the American in 1922 and bought by the wife of Governor General Leonard Wood. It is now housed in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Professor Boyer dated the image as “probably 14th century”.

The Golden Tara gold image is cast in 21-karat gold, weighs nearly 4 pounds and measures around 8 inches in height. The image is a Goddess of the Buddhist Pantheon in the Mahayana group. It is related to the concept of a female Boddhisattve and at the same time the counter-part of the Hindu Goddess Sakti as a Tara of wife of a Buddhist God.

The Golden Tara is believed to be an Indic influence on our gold producing culture during the Sri-Visayan Empire (700 – 1377 A.D.) and the Madjapahit Empire in Java (1292 – 1478 A.D.).

Gold may have been one of the main reasons for the large proto-historic population center in Butuan, here in the Philippines. Various proof of gold items displayed the glory of Butuan’s gold industry then. Various pre-hispanic gold collections are also on display at the Lopez Museum and at the Central Bank.

Golden Tara

Golden Tara

The Golden Tara and the Balanghai Boat are the two objects that are the icons of Butuan’s pre-history.

The three-foot tall replica/statue of the Golden Tara found near the Balanghai Hotel and Weegols Garden was donated by the Malvar Family. It is located 120-meters southwest of the Balanghai replica and 200-meters northeast of the Butuan National Museum (which also housed a smaller replica of the Golden Tara).

Golden Tara Statue

Golden Tara Statue

Lisa at Weegols Garden (near Golden Tara)

Lisa at Weegols Garden (near Golden Tara)

Mark and Lisa with Godparents Nap and Rosie Gaquing

Mark and Lisa with Godparents Nap and Rosie Gaquing

Fish pond at Weegols Garden

Fish pond at Weegols Garden


This page is last updated on Jun 16, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
About the author
Mark Anthony Maranga Mark Anthony Maranga is a Web Designer based in Cebu, Philippines. He sells Balloons and Party Supplies in Mandaue City, Cebu and explores the Philippines tourist attractions. During his free time he take pictures and write blogs. Check his website design portfolio and know more about him.

  1. Clyde Inocencio says:

    hello ! my brother is interested in this , and he is asking if where we can buy one ? I am based in Medina, Misamis Oriental about 2-1/2 hrs ride from Butuan. Hope you can reply to my query. Thank you !

  2. Miguel Braganza 11 says:

    Hello Mark thank you so much for the write-up about the Golden Tara of Butuan. I am a performing artist based here in new York City and I am in the process of creating a dance-opera based on this gold figurine. I visited the Golden Tara in Chicago few years ago. Thank you so much!!! Great work!!!

  3. Winslyn Iligan says:

    I REALLY ADMIRE YOUR WORK!!!

  4. jack cabida says:

    http://inmycaffeinatedthoughts.blogspot.com/2012/04/agusan-del-surs-golden-tara.html

    With all due respect, the Golden Tara was not found in Butuan but in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. According to the Butuan City website, The Butuan City museum where the Golden Tara is a star: “This museum is the repository of historical and cultural materials and artifacts that proves Butuan’s prehistoric existence and rich cultural heritage.” I think this should be rewritten to say Butuan and Agusan’s heritage…

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