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 C402-06

Tibetan furniture handpainted Buddhist altar table or shrine with dragon and auspicous symbols Tibetan hand-painted furniture used as a Buddhist altar or shrine with Ashoka blossom and wisdom jewels on side
Front left end
Buddhist altar or shrine back view painted with Tibetan dragon conch shell horm and other Auspicious Buddhist symbols end view of Tibetan Buddhist shrine with 4 noble truths buddhist symbology and Buddhist holy flowers on hand painted furniture
Back right end
Top view of Tibetan Buddhist shrine aka puja with lotus blossoms and pheonix  

click on the thumbnail pictures above to see larger views

The Tibetan Buddhist altars iconic theme is one of complimenting contrasts; turning negative into positive, with a Phoenix on top, a symbol of peace and a long dragon on the side a symbol of wrath; two of the four supernatural animals. The wrath subdues and eliminates delusions and poisons and peace turns this into the active quality of compassion. HH explains it this way: With compassion as the causal motivation (an action or behavior)... the practitioner utilizes things negative or wrath for a specific purpose. This technique is based on the fact that when we become angry, a very energetic and powerful mind is generated. When trying to achieve a fierce activity for beneficial purposes, the energy and power make a difference. Thus it is because of the usage of hatred in the path in this way that there come to be wrathful deities. The conch horn further compliments this with a call to action. Finally thee is an Ashoka blossom on each drawer that represents victory in overcoming our delusions and ignorance (the enemies with in each of us). 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, and both  ends.   The only metal hardware on this piece are the brass Silk Road transit tax coins 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=19.5" x W=31.5" x D=15.75"   
Age: circa 1930-50
Materials: Juniper and pine


Price $1185.00, plus shipping & handling
Shipping: West Coast $195, Mtn. States $219, Mid West $230, Atlantic coast $245  Canadian destinations contact us  for a quote. 


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 band just underneath the top has tormas at each corner and in the center of each side are 4-petaled flowers. The torma is an offering, usually made of butter. Both the torma and the 4 petaled flower are adorned with 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. 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 top of this nicely done altar sets the tone and compliments the theme for the sides and ends; it is the culmination of the efforts depicted on the sides. With a Phoenix in the center sitting upon a lotus throne and a myraid of mare's tail cumulus clouds, all surrounded by stylized chrysanthemums. The Phoenix is endowed with all of the magical qualities of auspiciousness: longevity, resurrection, the solar and alchemical fire. Like the deer, the Phoenix symbolizes peace and tranquility. Tibetan Buddhist mystics imagined the earth floating like a lotus flower on the oceans of the universe. The heart of the flower is the cosmic mountain, the axis of the universe. The lotus also has very deep spiritual meaning: 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 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. 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 drawers on the ends have a simple Ashoka blossom. The Ashoka, the second of the trinity of holy flowers, sprouts from the holy water-font of the Amitayus, one of the forms in which the Buddha Amitabha appeared (symbolizing the transformation from greed to discriminating wisdom). The sprout materialized from a tear that Buddha Amitabha shed when hearing of the deeds of the great warrior Ashoka that overcame all of his enemies to win freedom for his oppressed people. True spiritual freedom comes from overcoming the sins and lusts that enslave the soul.

The front and back feature a dragon flanked by a white conch shell horn that is eminating subtle energy.  Unlike its demonic European counterpart, the Tibetan dragon is a creature of great creative power; a positive icon, representing the strong male yang principle of heaven, change, energy, wealth and creativity. Dragons are shape shifters, able to transform at will, from something as small as the silkworm to a giant that fills the entire sky. Dragons are usually depicted in one of two colors, green or brown.  The green, or azure dragon of Buddhism ascends into the sky at the spring equinox; it represents the light's increasing power in springtime and the easterly direction of the sunrise. The brown dragon is the autumn equinox, when it descends into a deep pool, encasing itself in mud until the next spring, but its spirit is still with the practitioner bringing wealth and health. The pearls, or jewels clutched in the claws of the dragon represent wisdom and health. The dragon can control the weather by squeezing the jewels to produce dew, rain or even downpours when clutched tightly. The dragon is the vehicle of Vairochana, the white Buddha of the center or the east. Here the dragon is gold trimmed in red, this is a wrathful representation that subdues the poisons, and ignorance and turns it into pure compassion. 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. The subtle energy rays eminating from the top represent the practitioner's positve effect on the cosmos and thus other sentient beings.

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