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Tibetan Buddhist Altar Table C402-08 ~~ The Four Noble Truths: Path to Enlightenment

Tibetan altar 4 Noble Truths and yogurt left end of Tibetan Buddhist altar with
front left
antique Buddhist altar 4 noble truths path to enlightenment side of Tibetan Buddhist altar with 4 noble truths circa 1935
back right
top view of Tibetan altar with lotus blossoms  
top  

click on the thumbnail pictures above to see larger views

This altar's general theme is the Four Noble Truths that lead to the Dharma. The front, back and both sides feature symbols that represent the Four Noble Truths in some creative depictions. The front and back, both of which are almost identical, have at their center panel four yogurts in a group and 4 yogurts, one at each corner. On the adjacent panes the Four Noble truths are represented by Ashoka petals and then 4 smaller petals in green that when combined with the four Ashoka blossoms represent the Eightfold Noble Path or the 8 spokes of the Dharma Wheel. The top, which shows signs of wear and some color loss features lotus blossoms and lotus buds in the midst of durva grass, one of the Eight Bringers of Good Fortune. 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, and pictures of the lama that blessed this altar.

Dimensions: H=19.4" x W=31.4" x D=15.75"   
Age: circa 1930-40
Materials: Juniper and pine

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Price $1575.00, 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: the Four Petaled flower on the two panels flanking the main panel which has four yogurts surrounded by 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. 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.

 

The two sides, 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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