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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 C402-04

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  
top  

click on the thumbnail pictures above to see larger views

This altar's general theme is one of enlightenment. The top creatively presents the 4 noble truths and the Dharma in a well organized and flowing floral rendition. The sides feature the double dorje and a large Tse Bum. Please refer to the iconography for details. 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. 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=19.5" x W=31.4" x D=15.6"   
Age: circa 1930-40
Materials: Juniper and pine

SOLD SHIPPED TO NEW YORK, NY

Price $1465.00,plus shipping & handling
Shipping: West Coast $155, Mtn. States $169, Mid West $180, Atlantic coast $195  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 band just under the top edge is a series of lotus blossoms and Champaka blossoms wrapping the corners; each backed up by multicolored Durva grass. 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 symbolic flower in the center, set in the Mahamudra Mists, with a band of lotus blossoms formatted like a lotus throne surrounding the Mahamudra Mists. The complex symbolic flower starts with a blossom similar to the Champaka blossom, with 4 green petals, representing the 4 noble truths: this then morphs into eight buds or utpalas, representing the 8 fold path and the 8 spokes of the Dharma Wheel. Four 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. The Dharma is then represented by the totality of the buds of the flower which is eight, aligning with the eight spokes of the Dharma Wheel: 1. right understanding . 2. right attitude  3. right speech  4. right action  5. right work    6. right effort  7. right mindfulness  8. right meditation.   mahamudra The billowing 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."

 

The front and back have gold double dorjes flanking a large Tse Bum sitting on a seeming to explode lotus blossom. 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 Tsebum or "long-life vase" is a jar in which the "nectar of immortality" is kept.


The ends have a nicely adorned white conch shell horn on the drawers. 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 white conch shell was presented to Shakyamuni by the great sky god Indra.

 

 

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