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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Buddhist Altar/Tea Table C017-01

Antique Tibetan Buddhist tea table with peacock symbols antique tibetan altar or tea table with gold double dorje on side
Front left side
Antique Tibetan Buddhist altar or tea table with infinite knot in gold Tibetan furniture antique tea table with gold double dorje
Back right side
Antique Tibetan tea table top used as work bench  
top  

click on the thumbnail pictures above to see larger views

The Tibetan Buddhist altars iconic theme is that of obtaining the bodhichitta mind by removing poisons as evidenced by the peacocks blue throat. This table primarily served as a tea table. Tea tables were lower than the standard residential altar by 3-5 inches. The right front door shows signs of heat moisture damage from the tea pot that was placed on the floor in front of the door. Later the top was used as a work bench after the tea table was retired from tea service and is adorned with multiple splatters of paint. There is an iconography available as a meditation aid for this altar, see below. 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,  back, & both the right & left ends. I have cleaned the old wax and accumulated soot from this piece and treated the painted surfaces with a preservative: to view the tea table prior to cleaning click < here >.

There is damage to this piece, which is evident in the images, so please inspect the images closely. In addition to the right front door heat and moisture damage that exposes some of the cloth foundation for the painting there is the following. The top is split towards the rear and is raised up on the right portion of the top. There are two small pieces of wood missing from the back edge of the top. Most of the legs have some missing paint at the bottoms. The back panel is also split horizontally.

 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 front door is featured in the symbolism section of the book "The Golden Valley: The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet"

Dimensions: H=17.25" x W=20.5" x D=14.25"   
Age: circa 1700
Materials: Juniper and pine

This item can be purchased securely online click here

Price $1395.00, plus shipping & handling
Shipping: West Coast $195, Mtn. States $219, Mid West $245, Atlantic coast $264  Other destinations contact us  for a quote. 

Iconography

The border just underneath the top is the "T-wave" or 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 rest of the frame is done in a stylized trefoil; a cloud design that signifies the 3 Cintamani as the body, speech and mind of Buddha that the practitioner will possess.

The sides feature a double dorje surrounded by a cloud design signifying the Dharma. 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 back centers an Infinite Knot, done in gold filled kyungbur. 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 front doors have mirrored images of peacocks standing amongst the rock cliffs with billowing clouds in the background. The peacock is a very important bird, 1st it is an emblem of romantic love and beauty. In Buddhism the peacock supports the throne of Amitabha, the red Buddha of the west (main qualities include passion (lotus), love, vital fluids, evening twilight, summer and fire). The peacock is the mortal enemy of snakes, killing cobras with their talons. The main quality of the peacock is transmutation of poison into amrita or nectar. This is tied to Lord Shiva getting a blue throat from taking the poison produced by the churning of the ocean; thus the transmutation of poison or venom by the peacock is said to produce the electric blue of its throat plumage and the wisdom eyes of its tail feathers. In Vajra yana symbolism a bundle of peacock feathers is used as a sprinkler for the consecrated water or amrita contained in the blessing flask. In specific tantric rituals individual feathers are used as fan, mirror, and parasol adornments, also as the feathers for darts, and as the peacock feather parasol used by the goddess Palden Lhamo, symbolizing her wisdom activities and the transmutation of all evils or poisons. 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. Regarding the clouds: 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.

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