Tibetan buddhist Temple
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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Buddhist Altar Table C401-24

Antique Tibetan Buddhist  altar furniture hand painted with mirror symbol on front view Tibetan art on furniture altar table end view with clouds and subtle energy
Front left end
Tibetan art on furniture Buddhist altar table antique with Buddhist symbols end view of tibetan art furniture buddhist altar table
Back right end
top view of tibetan furniture art with Buddhist symbols conch shell horn  
top  

click on the thumbnail pictures above to see larger views

The Tibetan Buddhist altars iconic theme is that of obtaining the bodhichitta mind; the compassionate motivation wishing to attain full enlightenment for the sake of benefiting others and then doing thus. The top is exquisitely painted, featuring a perfume filled conch shell horn sitting on a Lotus Throne set in the Mahamudra mists of the pure lands, and is bordered by blue and red chrysanthemums. The front and back have a divination mirror flanked by rock cliffs representing the Holy Scriptures, while the drawer ends display the determination and sublte energy employed by a bodhisattva. There is an iconography available as a meditation aid for this altar, see below. This beautiful altar table was made for use in a Labrang (lama's residence) in central Tibet. When altars are painted on all 4 sides they are made to be placed in the center of a room with sufficient space to walk around. They were always circumambulated in a clockwise direction. This item is painted on front, top,  back, & both the right & left ends. This altar was never used and has been stored for decades.   The only metal hardware on this piece are the brass Silk Road transit tax coins and round pull on the drawer-fronts at each end. The Tibetan Buddhist altar comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, an iconography explaining the theme and meanings of the various icons; there is also pictures of the lama that blessed this altar. [this table's top is featured in the symbolism section of the book "The Golden Valley: The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet"]

Dimensions: H=19.75" x W=31.4" x D=15.75"   
Age: circa 1930-50
Materials: Juniper and pine

SOLD SHIPPED TO CLAREMONT, CA

Price $1695.00, plus shipping & handling
Shipping: West Coast $195, Mtn. States $219, Mid West $230, Atlantic coast $245  Canadian destinations contact us  for a quote. 

Iconography

The red and 24kt gold zigzag kyungbur adorning the frame is the transition of passion into compassion and the resultant Buddha like purity of actions and thoughts. The 24kt gold continuous ‘T’-wave just under the top edge of the of the offering cabinet is also called the thunder wave. This is the thunder of the 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 top has at its center a Lotus throne with a conch shell horn filled with perfume, with bilva fruit just behind with their three leaves still attached. the background is a rugged landscape with cumulus clouds moving in and out of the cliffs. Mare's tail cumulus clouds 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 lotus is an important Buddhist motif.  Images of the Buddha and other important persons often are shown seated on a lotus throne.  The growth of the lotus, with its roots in mud, growing through water, and emerging as a wonderful plant above the water's surface, is seen as an analogy of the soul’s path from the mud of materialism to the purity of enlightenment. The right spiraling (echoing the celestial movement of the sun, moon and stars) conch shell is one of the oldest icons in Buddhism.  It is made by nature and not man. A conch horn sounds in all directions, as do the teachings of the Buddha. Consequently, the conch is seen as a vehicle fearlessly proclaiming the truth of the dharma in all directions. It is also seen as an emblem of power and authority and is thought to banish evil. What looks like turbulent water in the conch shell horn is actually perfume and is part of a sense offering along with the bilva fruit just behind the horn. This is all bordered by red and blue chrysanthemums. The chrysanthemum symbolizes autumn & the gathering of the harvest. In this case, it is a metaphor for achieving the goal of enlightenment & its accompanying peace. The blue represents compassion. Red is the transmutation of passion into compassion  

The drawers on the ends have a set of simulacra HUM rock cliffs with subtle energy radiating out from the mahamudra mists. HUM is the determination to either reach enlightenment or once there to stay focused. The subtle energy is the cosmic force that one deploys for the benefit of all; it is the will of the mind that has been released upon the cosmos that effects change; nothing is accomplished without will.  

The front and back feature a divination mirror with yellow and green scarves just behind the mirror. At the the corners are blue and green cliffs with kusha grass growing out of the top. The rock/cliff formation represents the syllable "E" which appears in the opening stanza of early Buddhist scriptures, ("'thus,' I have heard"). The blue and green cliffs represent the unmoving nature of the mind when enlightenment has been attained. Kusha grass grows to a height of two feet and is used to purify defilements.  Those wishing purification sleep in a field or patch of kusha grass for ritual purification.  Placed under a pillow at night before initiation, Kusha grass is believed to produce clear dreams; it is also used to enhance the clarity of visualization and meditation.  Kusha is the grass of choice for the manufacture of sacred meditation mats. In the background are Mahamudra mists and a few mare's tail cumulus clouds. Mare's tail cumulus clouds 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. Whether something is beautiful or ugly, good or evil the mirror passes no judgment and is unaffected by the image; similarly pure consciousness is unaffected by the beauty or ugly, good or evil nature of thoughts which arise and pass. Like a reflection in a mirror, their essence is void, without substance. Like a wild animal that sees and attacks an apparent rival in its own reflection in a still pool, the mind self-identifies with its own projected imagery. The billowing clouds or mist are Mahamudra: the union of compassion and wisdom -- the ultimate realization of one’s true nature.  They are represented as the transformation of our vices into the 4 powers of regret, vow, reliance, and remedy, so the practitioner will realize purification and enlightenment.  This is also the basic meaning of the "Heart Sutra."

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