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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Tibetan Buddhist Altar Table C401-25

Tibetan Buddhist Altar table with lotus blossom on front tibetan furniture hand painted buddhist altar end view
Front left end
Tibetan furniture hand painted with Buddhist symbols used as altar table Buddhist altar end view with Tibetan buddhist symbols
Back right end
Tibetan Buddhist altar top with Buddhist symbols hand painted  
top  

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The Tibetan Buddhist altars iconic theme is the union of wisdom and method by following the scriptures; the sub theme is selfless sacrifice, healing and spiritual growth leading to enlightenment. The top is exquisitely painted with a plethora of buddhist symbols all set in the Mahamudra mists of the pure lands, and is bordered by blue and red chrysanthemums. The front and back have a lotus blossom in full bloom flanked by mare's tail cumulus clouds. The art work is clean and well done, the kyungbur (the raised outlining) is excellent. 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, a map of the Amdo region where the Sange monasteries are located, and pictures and additional information about the monasteries and people of the Golden Valley; there is also pictures of the lama that blessed this altar.

Dimensions: H=19.75" x W=31.5" x D=15.75"   
Age: circa 1930-50
Materials: Juniper and pine

This item can be purchased securely online click here

Price $1595.00, plus shipping & crating
Shipping: West Coast $255, Mtn. States $269, Mid West $288, Atlantic coast $305  Other 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 stack of Cintamani over fine cloth, which is then over a leopard and tiger skin. Flanking the sides of the Cintamani are precious red coral and the Queen's earrings. The front corners of the main presentation have stacks of orange cinnabar. To the right of stack of offerings is bilva fruit. This is all bordered by red and blue chrysanthemums. Cintamani are wish-granting jewels and additionally represent wisdom.  When depicted in sets of 3, they represent the body, speech and mind of Buddha such as the practitioner may possess.  Cintamani are also referred to as the “Thinking Jewel” and symbolize the importance of teaching and as well as the enlightened mind. The top Cintamani is blue and surrounded by flames and is the Precious 8-faceted Jewel of Chakravartin, the flames around the border of the jewel is symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment. Eight-faceted jewel, as in having eight magical properties. It cools when the days are hot, warms when the days are cold, illuminates the darkness of night, causes rain to fall or a spring to appear when one is thirsty, it brings to fruition what ever the bearer desires, it heals emotional afflictions, and cures all of the diseases of those who are in its range of its light and lastly prevents untimely death as in fathers passing on before sons. The Precious Queen's heavy earrings are taken as a symbol of comprehension of the Buddha’s teachings.  The weight of the earrings would have caused the wearers earlobes to elongate.  The long earlobes of the Buddha are a symbol of her detachment from all things earthly. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices. The tiger and leopard skins represent the union of method and wisdom respectively. Bilva fruit, also known as the Bengal quince, is shown here with stylized peony, indicative of a deity's aura, radiating out in the top layer.  Medicinally, Bilva is a potent astringent and highly regarded for its purifying qualities in traditional Indian folk medicine.  The unripe interior of the fruit, especially when made into a jam, was the best known cure for diarrhea and dysentery.  It is regarded as one of the most sacred fruits and serves as one of the main offering fruits.  In this offering of Bilva fruit, representing the sense-offering of taste, the Buddha Amoghasiddhi is manifested as motivation or will. 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 in the mahamudra mists. HUM is the determination to either reach enlightenment or once there to stay focused. In general 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. The tops of these cliffs have Kusha grass growing out of them, 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.

The front and back feature a lotus blossom flanked by mare's tail cumulus clouds and mahamudra mists. 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 3 stages of the lotus, bud, utpala (mid-blossom) and the full blossoming throne represent the past present and future respectively. Mare's tail cumulus clouds are frequently seen 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 blue 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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