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C016-01 Buddhist Altar Table with Snowlion, Leopard & Dorje

Baronet 4 Tibet, Art Galleries, Dealers & Consultants, Vancouver, WA
Tibetan Buddhist Altar with double dorje on side circa 1680
Antique Furniture Tibetan Buddhist Altar circe 1680 with Snowlion and leopard on front
Antique Tibetan Buddhist Altar table side view with Double dorje in 24kt gold circa 1680
left side
right side
Tibetan Furniture Buddhist altar painted on back with 4 noble truths symbol in gold

click on above small pictures to view larger pictures~use underlined words in text below to see additional views

This is a very nice Tibetan Buddhist Lama's altar, made to be placed in the center of the room as it is painted on all four sides; it would have been in front of the lama during his teachings with students around it facing the lama. The two front doors, with a Snowlion on one and a leopard on the other, open using the center divide. This style is typical of the 15 and 1600s. One point of special interest is the purple pigments seen on the doors, purple was a very rare pigment and was unstable during storage, so it had to be used within a very short period of time, once applied however it remains stable. The door with the Snowlion on it has some type of mar, that most likely is the result of a burn. The sides have a very ornate double Dorje laid out nicely in the kyungbur, with 24kt gold inside of the kyungbur designs: the corners of the sides have a durva grass and Infinite knot design. The back again is done in monochrome with the central design of a four petaled flower that morphs into a torma that is interconnected with durva grass design. The kyungbur on the back and sides is excellent, a bit thicker than what one would have seen 80 years earlier, yet not as thick as in the 1800s and later. The top is not painted, however has a heavy wax and soot residue and there exists some splitting of the boards, which are attached with wood dowels that can be seen from the top. There is some damage on this piece other than the front right door, most of it on the back; please examine the images carefully; the price has been heavily discounted for these blemishes. The piece has had the soot and wax cleaned and an acrylic preservative coating to the art work and Watco furniture oil on the unpainted wood <front prior to cleaning>. Comes with a COA signed by one of the monks, an iconography and other supporting documents of interest.

Age: late1600s
Materials: Juniper, and other woods
 Dimensions H= 17 " W= 20.5 " D= 14.25 "

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C016-01 Price $1385.00 Plus shipping & crating~ EAST COAST $264.00 ~  MIDWEST $245 ~ MTN STATES $219.00 ~   WEST COAST $192.00; other destinations, contact David@baronet4tibet.com for a quote


The border under the top is a carved durva grass, which extends around the entire top. Grass, in sanskrit, Durva, is a symbol for long (or Longer) life and is used in life-enriching rituals. grass, being highly resilient, is believed to be immortal and so proclaims the end of samsara, the successive death and rebirth of all beings. The frame is adorned with a zigzag kyungbur done in 24kt gold on a red background symbolizes the transition of passion into compassion and the resultant Buddha like purity of actions and thoughts.

The front doors have a leopard on the left door and a Snowlion on the right; in the background are rock cliffs, mountains and cumulus clouds. The  Leopard's spots  resemble (according to Tibetans) the female vagina, consequently the flayed skin of the leopard is more commonly worn by dakinis or wrathful goddesses as a skirt or apron.  The large cat skins are most frequently associated with the wrathful deities, Mahakala is usually seen with the tiger skin wrapped around his waist.  Victory banners and the asama or meditational seats are also adorned with leopard skins, as are bow quivers. The leopard is also the messenger of the wrathful deities and additionally represents the death of pride, one of the 5 delusions and ultimate emptiness of of this delusion. The Snow Lion is the national emblem of Tibet.  The Snow Lion resides in the East and represents unconditional cheerfulness, a mind freed from doubt, clear and precise. It has a beauty and dignity resulting from a synchronized body and mind. The Snow Lion has the youthful, vibrant energy of goodness and a natural sense of delight.  Sometimes, the throne of a Buddha is depicted with eight Snow lions on it.  In this case, they represent the 8 main Bodhisattva-disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha.  Associations: main quality is fearlessness, dominance over mountains, and the earth element. Cumulus clouds which are quite common in Tibet: one significance of these fast moving clouds and the pure clarity of the sky is metaphorically an illustration of the Buddha Mind. Clouds may come and go across the heavens, like the transitory thoughts or delusions which appear to obscure the mind's true nature, yet the nature of the sky remains unchanged. this is like the mirror, which is always unaffected by the appearances which arise in it, the sky is clear, transparent, infinite and immaculate.

The sides have a double Dorje with infinite knots at each corner that morphs in durva grass. The Double Dorje is an epiphany, a sudden realization;  Dorje (Tibetan) thunderbolt, or double diamond, ("visvavajra" in sanskrit). Its four heads represent the four Dhyani Buddha. Of these, it is associated primarily with Amoghasiddhi, lord of the north, the Karma Family Buddha, whose name means "Unfailing Accomplishment."  The double Dorje represents the indestructibility of all phenomenal essence.  It serves as a symbol of harmony, immutability, and all -knowingness. The single, uncrossed representation, vajra (diamond scepter, dorje in Tibetan), symbolizing skilful means, compassion, samsara.  This compassion is an active quality rather than mere sympathetic feelings not transformed into action. Compassion refers to action that is exactly consonant with whatever is occurring and that is not self-referential. The Eternal, or Infinite, Knot (Sanskrit, "Srivastsa"), is the classic icon for the concept of reality. The interwoven lines are graphic representations of the concept that everything in the world is interconnected, and therefore, dependent origination is the underlying reality of existence.  The knot also reflects the endless cycle of death and rebirth, mirroring infinity and the wisdom of the Buddha. It also symbolizes the Buddha's endless wisdom and compassion. The sanskrit term means 'beloved of the goddess Shri.' Shri refers to Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, wherein the shrivatsa term in particular is the curl of hair in a 8 looped knot on the breast of Vishnu (just to further complicate the origins).

The back has a very ornate 4-petaled flower in the center of a simple torma that morphs into durva grass. The 4-petaled flower is symbolic of the 4 Noble truths, the middle way and the first teaching of Buddha. 1. Life is suffering. 2. Ignorance is the cause of suffering.  3. The cessation of suffering is the goal of life because it transcends pains and pleasure.  4. The way to the cessation of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which aligns with the eight spokes of the Dharma Wheel. Torma literally means to cast out, and represents a casting away of poisons that inhibit spiritual growth and impedes progress towards enlightenment.


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