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Tibetan Buddhist Altar Table C402-12 ~~ Truth that Leads to the Dharma

Tibetan Buddhist altar with painted symbology leading to enlightenment Tibetan Buddhist furniture with 4 noble truths and Dharma Wheel symbolically painted
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4 sided Tibetan Buddhist altar with buddhist symbols explained right side view of painted Tibetan Buddhist altar
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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 enlightenment; understanding truth and the correct steps toward enlightenment. The top creatively presents the 4 noble truths and the Dharma in a well organized and flowing floral rendition. This theme is repeated on the drawer ends and the breakfront at the bottom of all four sides. 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. 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". 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=19.5" x W=31.5" x D=15.75"   
Age: circa 1930-50
Materials: Juniper and pine

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Price $1365.00,plus shipping & handling
Shipping: West Coast $255, Mtn. States $269, Mid West $288, Atlantic coast $305  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 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 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 blossoms that are a comination of lotus and Ashoka flowers flanking red coral sitting on a Champaka throne. In the orange ether there are elephant tusks, Cintamani and yogurt floating on gold offering stands, with the Mahamudra Mists framing the side of the center panel. 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. Red coral is the most precious of offerings, possibly because it is impossible to find in Tibet, so one has to search elsewhere to find it. 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. Cintamani are wish-granting jewels and additionally represent wisdom. When Elephant tusks are depicted they are symbolic of the whole elephant and in particular 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 ends again have a 4-petaled flower that has the minor petals to make 8 spokes of the Dharma Wheel, a continuing theme of this altar. This pattern is also evident on the bottom breakfront panels, with half of a 4-petaled flower with the minor petals showing to make the eight spokes of the Dharma Wheel.



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