Tara makes the gesture of charity (varadamudra) with her right hand and holds a lotus in her left. These gestures are commonly used in representations of Tara, and this image is identified as a form of Green or Syama (or Khadiravani) Tara by her color and her posture, in which one leg rests on the pedestal and the other is pendant. Another of her manifestations, White Tara, is represented in a small figure above the principal figure's left shoulder. Above her right shoulder, Shakyamuni Buddha is shown with the gesture of touching the earth (bhumisparshamudra). The two extremely small figures above Green Tara's head represent a mahasiddha (great sage) and a kingly person who was possibly a famous devotee, while the numerous small figures surrounding the image illustrate the many manifestations of Tara. The male and female donors of the painting and the monk who consecrated it are depicted in the center of the lower registers. The red hat worn by the monk indicates that he was a member of the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism, often called the "Red Hat" sect in Western scholarship. The presence of the monk and the donors and the painting's iconography suggest that it was used for meditation and initiation into practices centered on the many aspects and energies of Tara.
Several features indicate that this painting was created in the western part of central Tibet in an area known as Tsang. This area is renowned for a style of Tibetan painting that flourished from the 13th through 16th centuries and was strongly influenced by the art of Nepal because of the many Newari artists then working in central Tibet. The emphasis on blue and red in this painting and the treatment of the faces and figures reflect Nepali prototypes. The structured composition of space seen here and the rich and abundant detailing--for example, in the small figures--are typical of the art of Tsang. Additional details include the elegant designs on Tara's clothing, the rich and varied depictions of her lotus pedestal and the lotus flowers, the embossing of the halo and the crown, and the elaborate flowerlike pieces used to tie her diadem. The fact that her armlets are shown facing the inside rather than the outside of her arms also helps to place this painting in the Tsang tradition.
An image of a Tibetan-style stupa known as a chorten is drawn in black and red ink on the back. The only inscription on this painting is found within this stupa, directly in back of the main image of Tara. Written in Tibetan in the dbu can script, it reads om a hum. This traditional mantra, or sacred saying, is used in many aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, but provides no further information regarding this particular painting.