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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Buddhist Altar Table C401-08

Tibetan Buddhist painted altar with lotus and treasure jar symbols Tibetan furniture hand painted buddhist symbolism
front left
Tibetan Buddhist painted altar with lotus and treasure jar symbols tibetan buddhist furniture hand painted with buddhist symbolism
back right
Tibetan buddhist symbols Cintamani bael fruit red coral offerings  

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This altar is made for tantric practice with a definite mind towards giving and compassion. The top is exquisitely painted, employing a nice symmetry, with a Tsebum topping a pyramid of wonderful offerings and tantric applications. This is the only altar that I have seen with both tiger and leopard skins, this is very tantric and denotes the union of wisdom, the leopard skins, with methodology, the tiger skins. This is set in the mists of the pure lands, and is bordered by blue and red chrysanthemums. There is an iconography available as a meditation aid for this altar, see below. 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, this has taken a small toll on the art work as the large variances in temperatures have had an adverse effect and made effective cleaning very difficult.   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, an iconography explaining the theme and meanings of the various icons, 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=20 x W=32 x D=16   
Age: circa 1940
Materials: Juniper and pine

ITEM RESERVED SALE PENDING will ship to Alpharetta, Georgia

Price $1595.00, plus shipping & handling
Shipping: West Coast $140, Mtn. States $149, Mid West $160, Atlantic coast $175  Canadian destinations contact us  for a quote. 


The red and 24kt gold zigzag kyungbur adorning the frame is the transition of passion into compassion and the resultant Buddha like purity of actions and thoughts. The 24kt gold continuous ‘T’-wave just under the top edge of the of the offering cabinet is also called the thunder wave. This is the thunder of the vajra (diamond scepter, dorje in Tibetan), symbolizing skilful means, compassion, samsara. 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 top of this nicely done altar sets the tone and theme for the sides and ends. The top is exquisitely painted with a Tsebum or jar containing the nectar of long life sitting over a stack of Cintamani, with the top jewel, blue and flaming, the precious 8-faceted jewel of Chakravartin. Flanking the Cintamani are sets of elephant tusks, representing the entire elephant. under this is a tantric offering of fine cloth draped over tiger and leopard skins. In the background are the pure lands; mountains, with Mt. Meru in the center, cumulus clouds, and pure water forming a river from the glacial melt of the mountains. Additionally there is red coral, stacks of mustard seeds, a covered treasure jar and rolls of tangkas, all surrounded by lotus buds and Bilva fruit in sets of threes. 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. The flames around the border of the Cintamani are symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment. The top blue Cintamani is Chakravartin's Precious 8-faceted jewel. Eight-faceted jewel, as in having eight magical properties. 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. The Treasure Jar or urn (kalasa) promises the good fortune of spiritual and material fulfillment, symbolizing the treasure of spiritual wealth.  Among those treasures is the jewel of enlightenment. It also extends to the material side and it is characteristic of the deities that symbolize prosperity. The clouds surrounding the mountains and filling the sky are cumulus clouds, 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. This is the only altar that I have seen with both tiger and leopard skins, this is very tantric and denotes the union of wisdom; the leopard skins, with methodology; the tiger skins. This is best typified by Vajrakilaya and his consort a blue vajra yogini. Vajrakilaya is not a deity to be worshipped, but rather to be visualized, thus opening the way for the yogini's sensibilities and clearing all obstructions to inner energy flows. Bilva fruit, also known as the Bengal quince, is shown here with stylized peony, indicative of a deity's aura, radiating out in the top layer.  Medicinally, Bilva is a potent astringent and highly regarded for its purifying qualities in traditional Indian folk medicine.  The unripe interior of the fruit, especially when made into a jam, was the best known cure for diarrhea and dysentery.  It is regarded as one of the most sacred fruits and serves as one of the main offering fruits.  In this offering of Bilva fruit, representing the sense-offering of taste, the Buddha Amoghasiddhi is manifested as motivation or will. The three yellow stacks at the left lower corner of the top are mustard seeds, they are connected to the wrath of the Buddhas, in this context wrath is not rage, but rather righteous indignation, a powerful expression of spiritual energy. Mustard seeds would be dispersed during the reciting of tantric mantras with the goal of destroying ignorance, demons and the root of all suffering. The chrysanthemum border symbolizes autumn & the gathering of the harvest. In this case, it is a metaphor for achieving the goal of enlightenment & its accompanying peace. The blue represents compassion. Red is the transmutation of passion into that active compassion.

The sides have an ornate gold treasure vase flanked by blue and green rock cliffs with Kusha grass growing out of the tops and to the side of that are a lotus in mid blossomand one in full blosson on the left. 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 3 stages of the lotus, bud, utpala (mid-blossom) and the full blossoming throne represent the past present and future respectively. The rock/cliff formation represents the syllable "E" which appears in the opening stanza of early Buddhist scriptures, ("'thus,' I have heard"). The blue and green cliffs represent the unmoving nature of the mind when enlightenment has been attained. Kusha grass grows to a height of two feet and is used to purify defilements. Those wishing purification sleep in a field or patch of kusha grass for ritual purification. Placed under a pillow at night before initiation, Kusha grass is believed to produce clear dreams; it is also used to enhance the clarity of visualization and meditation. Kusha is the grass of choice for the manufacture of sacred meditation mats.

Unusual for these altars, the drawers have different icons, the right drawer has a lotus on a peony pad, while the left drawer has a stack of 15 Cintamani with elephant tusks and the Queen's earrings. The elephant tusks represent the entire elephant and is always indicitive of Chakravartin's Precious elephant. 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 queen's is also a precious possession of Chakravartin: 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 her detachment from all things earthly. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices. 

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