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Tibetan Buddhist Altar Table C401-19 ~~ Wisdom of the Bodhisattva

antique Tibetan altar front view with Cintamani in offering bowl Tibetan buddhist altar side view with Ashoka blossom
front left
Buddhist altar table front view with Cintamani jewels and offering bowl Tibetan Buddhist altar side view with durva grass Bringer of good fortune
back right
Top of Tibetan altar table with cintamani and subtle energy of the Bodhisattva  
top  

click on the thumbnail pictures above to see larger views

This altar's general theme is one of acquiring Bodhichitta wisdom to become a Bodhisattva. The top, front and back have beautiful offering bowls filled with Cintamani, the jewel of wisdom. The top additionally has subtle energy radiating out from the bowl signifying the creative and life changing power of the Bodhisattva. The offering bowls have also elephant tusks representing the overcoming of obstacles and what is quite unusual is in the offering bowl on the back the elephant tusks are colored red; maybe it represents a truly wrathful elephant that accomplishes much. 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 altar is painted on front, top,  back, & both the right & left ends. This altar was never used and has been stored for decades, the large variances in temperatures have made effective cleaning difficult; this is evident on the sides.   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 altar was made after a devastating genocidal attack by a Muslim army that killed more than half of the population in the Golden Valley. Details are available in the book "The Golden Valley; The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet", which comes with the altar table. This altar comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, a map of the Amdo region where the Sange monasteries are located and pictures of the lama that blessed this altar.

Dimensions: H=20" x W=31.5" x D=15.75"   
Age: circa 1930-50
Materials: Juniper and pine

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Price $1645.00, plus crating and shipping
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 lower part of the frame is the transition of passion into compassion and the resultant Buddha like purity of actions and thoughts. 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 front and back are very similar: gold offering bowl, gilted in 24kt gold, filled with Cintamani, yogurt and elephant tusks. Offering bowls are not filled with things that the practitioner is offering, but those attributes that the practitioner is seeking and when those attributes have been acquired, then the practitioner makes them available to others as a Bodhisattva, an offering of self. 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 slow process of making yogurt is an appropriate metaphor for transforming the spirit. By faithfully applying the principles of Buddhism, negative behavior is overcome and the clear mind is revealed. In this case an offering is made of both the yogurt and the coral, which is one of the most precious and valuable offerings.Elephant tusks when depicted are symbolic of the whole elephant, specifically Chakravartin's Precious Elephant. The Precious Elephant is a symbol of the strength of the mind in Buddhism. Exhibiting noble gentleness, the precious elephant serves as a symbol of the calm majesty possessed by one who is on the path. Specifically, it embodies the boundless powers of the Buddha, which are miraculous aspiration, effort, intention, and analysis. 

 

The two side, which are drawers have Ashoka blossoms surrounded by durva grass which is one of the Eight Bringers of Good Fortune. Bermuda 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 Ashoka blossom, 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.

Ashoka ruled a vast empire 2200 years ago and put his peoples welfare and interests above his own, he supported Buddhism, however he was insistent upon religious tolerance and open dialog

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