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Tibetan Buddhist Altar Table C402-11 "Truth that Leads to Enlightenment"

Tibetan antique furniture buddhist altar with double dorjes hand painted Buddhist symbols Tibetan Buddhist altar with jewels red coral and general's insignia
front left
Tibetan buddhist altar with lotus blossom symbols Buddhist altar table with Tibetan symbols hand painted side view
back right
Tibetan buddhist altar top with hand-painted lotus blossoms  
top  

click on the thumbnail pictures above to see larger views

This altar's general theme is one of the truth that leads to enlightenment. The top creatively presents the 4 noble truths which leads to the Dharma; along with the sides the main flowers are lotus blossoms. The two ends where the drawers are dominated by the Precious General's insignia accompanied by coral and Cintamani helps to set the stage for proper understanding. 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; usually this results in a difficult cleaning: this altar was no exception with some wax and oil residue in various places.   The only metal hardware on this piece are the brass Silk Road transit tax coins 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 of the lama that blessed this altar.

Dimensions: H=19.4" x W=31.5" x D=15.6"   
Age: circa 1930-40
Materials: Juniper and pine

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Price $1565.00,plus shipping & handling
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 band just under the top edge is a series of Champaka blossoms wrapping the corners. The bottom breakfront is a series of half flowers, the upper being pink/white and the lower are gold; 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 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. 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 above 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 top is a set of four styled lotus blossoms set in the Mahamudra Mists. The four styled lotus blossoms, set like thrones, represent the 4 noble truths which is 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 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, both painted similarly, have two lotus blossoms flanking an Ashoka blossom that is stylized with more pointed variegated petals than the usual rounded ones. The Ashoka, 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.


The drawer ends feature the Precious General's Insignia, with Cintamani set in the cross to represent the Four noble Truths. This is then flanked by red and white coral, the Precious Queen's round earrings, two gold floating tormas and two yogurts on gold offering dishes. The floating gold tormas just above the Precious General's Insignia represent the second step that includes the Dharma Wheel: torma figuratively and literally is a casting out. It is a casting out of poisons and delusions and replacing them with truth and the accompanying virtues, which includes compassion. The Precious General and the Precious Queen are two 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 is the lineage of 25 Kulika kings or enlightened monarchs, the 25th of which will finally defeat the "non-believers." We are currently at the end of the 24th Kulika kings reign. The Precious General is ready both to wage war and defend the kingdom, having attained mastery of the 64 strategic arts of war. He fights for truth and justice, does no unvirtuous acts, he causes no harm to other beings. The Precious 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/her detachment from all things earthly. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices. The slow process of making yogurt is an appropriate metaphor for transforming the spirit. By faithfully applying the principles of Buddhism, negative behavior is cast out 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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