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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Tibetan Buddhist Altar Table C402-02

Tibetan antique furniture buddhist altar with double dorjes hand painted Tibetan furniture antique buddhist altar with auspicious conch shell horn hand painted
front left
antique Tibetan furniture a buddhist altar with hand painted buddhist symbols hand-painted antique tibetan furniture with gold trim
back right
antique tibetan furniture with 4 noble truths and 8 fold path to enlightenment painted  

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This altar's general theme is one of empowerment via wisdom and method and thus to help other sentient beings. The top sets the theme, offerings of fine cloths are draped over leopard (wisdom) and tiger (method) skins; a grand offering bowl with Cintamani (knowledge) and the magical 8 faceted jewel of Chakravartin radiating subtle energy to effect change in the cosmos. The sides feature a golden dragon and the Auspicious Parasol. Please refer to the iconography for details. The kyungbur (the raised outlining) is excellent on this Tibetan Buddhist altar table; the dragon is fine in detail as well as the top band with the gold filigree surrounding the flowers and leading to them. This beautiful piece of Tibetan furniture 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; there is a scratch on the top just above the Ashoka blossom on the right portion of the top.   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. This altar comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, 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=19.62" x W=31.5" x D=15.75"   
Age: circa 1930-40
Materials: Juniper and pine


Price $1285.00,plus shipping & handling
Shipping: West Coast $155, Mtn. States $169, Mid West $180, Atlantic coast $195  Other destinations contact us  for a quote. 


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 band just under the top edge is excellently detailed with kyungbur; lotus blossoms on the ends with gold scrolling durva grass, Champaka flowers wrapping the corners; and finally a stylized Ashoka blossom with 4 peony leaves in the center. The bottom breakfront is a series of half flowers, the upper being gold and the lower are blue; the four main petals represent the 4 noble truths, while the lesser petals combine with the greater petals to be numbered 8 and the Dharma. The lotus flower represents earth.  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 generally acknowledged meaning of the lotus flower is purity of mind or divine creation. From the muck of a pond, where the roots of the lotus reside, an immaculate white flower emerges to rest on the surface of the water as a metaphor for the harmonious unfolding of spirituality. 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 Champaka is the 3rd flower of the holy trinity of flowers in Buddhist symbology, the 1st is the Lotus and the 2nd is the Ashoka. The Champaka is also called the camp flower. The Champaka is a white blossom from the wish-fulfilling tree and is an attribute of Maitreya Buddha, conferring love, compassion and beauty. 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 has a complex set of symbolic offerings in the center, set in the Pure Lands, with a band of lotus blossoms formatted like a lotus throne surrounding the main offerings; mountains are in the backgrounds as well as cumulus clouds. The offering starts with a tiger and leopard skin draped with fine cloths: the leopard is associated with female deities and represents wisdom, the tiger is associated with male deities and represents methodology to gain the wisdom. Above this is an offering bowl filled with a stack of Cintamani, the top blue flaming jewel is Chakravartin's magical 8-faceted jewel. Flanking the Cintamani are sets of elephant tusks, representing the entire elephant, the round earrings of the Queen and in the blue ether a single earring of the King AKA Minister. The elephant tusks, King's and Queen's earrings along with the blue Jewel are part of the seven Precious Possessions of Chakravartin. The term Chakravartin, or Wheel Turner in Hinduism refers to an ideal ruler, but in Buddhism, Chakravartin has come to mean a Buddha whose all-encompassing teachings are universally true.  Chakravartin has an army of 4 divisions, infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots. Chakravartin is the lineage of 25 Kulika kings or enlightened monarchs, the 25th of which will finally defeat the "non-believers." 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 Precious King's and 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 his detachment from all things earthly. Like the Buddha, the King represents a wealth of faith, morality, honesty, modesty, learning, renunciation, and wisdom. The King is also referred to as the Precious minister. His intelligence is razor-sharp, with a great ability for patience and listening.  He desires to do only good works to promote the Dharma, to protect and benefit all beings. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices. The Eight-faceted jewel, as in having eight magical properties and not 8 cut facets. 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. 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. 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. Pictured here are 6 flaming jewels.  The flames around the border of the top Cintamani (Chakravartin's blue 8-faceted Precious Jewel) are symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment. The last and most important element of the top is the subtle energy represented by the series of inverted rainbows coming from the back of the offering bowl. This comes from the practitioner, representing his/her will that effects the cosmos and everything in it in a positive manner, turning evil to good; the ultimate universal law.

The front and back have gold dragons clutching Cintamani and the dragon is flanked by the Auspicious Parasol. 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 as small as the silkworm to a giant that fills the entire sky. Dragons are 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. In this case the dragon is gold and represents the composite of the winter/summer dragon. 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. The parasol and the shade it casts symbolize wisdom.  Its hanging skirt indicates compassion, so the parasol becomes a symbol of protection from the painful heat of the suffering human incur from the spiritual poisons of desire, hate, greed and ignorance.  The Victory banner is an early Buddhist motif signifying the enlightenment of the Buddha and the triumph of knowledge over ignorance.  This symbol also is used to recall the Buddha’s triumph over his temptress, Mara.  It further announces that all spiritual obstacles have been overcome and good fortune has arrived.

The ends again have an offering of fine cloths draped over a leopard skin; in the background are two gold dishes of yogurt. 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.

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