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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Antique Tibetan Buddhist Altar C006

Tibetan Buddhist Altar with Phoenix
Tibetan Buddhist altar with Infinite Knot
front view back view
Tibetan Buddhist Altar with longevity symbol tibetan Buddhist furniture altar with longevity symbol
left side right side

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One of the few antique Tibetan Buddhist altars painted on all 4 sides; this Tibetan furniture was made for tantric meditations. Generally Tibetan antique furniture was only painted on the front, unless the sides were exposed; in this case the Tibetan altar table would have been used in a communal room for prayer and meditation and placed in the center of the room. The front doors have a very beautiful Phoenix that has risen above the mountains. This is a transitional piece with the zigzag kyungbur on the frame, but absent the thunderwave just unde the top. It is also the last of the gold on monochrome sides. The doors are very nicely painted with excellent shading giving a three dimensional look. The left door has some color loss at the bottom. This monochrome on the back and sides is a concentration aid for tantric practices, bringing forth more power to the practitioner. The hinges of the doors are wood-pegs in the doors that fit into a hole in the underside of the top & slide into a groove on the frame base rail. The door-pull is the vertical trim in the center of the two doors. The top is not painted and shows signs of centuries of use, it has also split.

Age: 1600-1650
Dimensions (overall): H=17" W=20.5" D=14.13" measurements approximate


have questions? email David@Baronet4Tibet.com

Price $1,385.00,~EAST COAST $94.00 ~  MIDWEST $85 ~/MTN STATES $79.00 ~   WEST COAST $72.00; other destinations, contact us  for a quote.    


The red and 24kt gold zigzag kyungbur adorning the side 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 has a graceful Phoenix stnding upon purple mountain peaks with mare's tail cumulus clouds in the background. The Phoenix is endowed with all of the magical qualities of auspiciousness: longevity, resurrection, the solar and alchemical fire. Like the deer, the Phoenix symbolizes peace and tranquility. Sometimes a similar bird is referred to as the 'Bird of Paradise' with similar meanings. Mare's tail cumulus clouds are quite common in Tibet, 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 sides have a longevity symbol in the center that is also in the shape of the character shou. Show is characteristic of the butterfly. The butterfly is a symbol often seen in Tibetan art: it recalls the dream of Taoist philosopher, Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu, having dreamed that he was a butterfly joyously flittering, posed the question, “Did Chuang Tzu dream he was a Butterfly? Or is the butterfly still dreaming that he is Chuang Tzu?” The caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly, as unified symbols of transmutation, resurrection and immortality, are perhaps best described in the aphorism, “What the caterpillar perceives as the end of all things, the rest of the world perceives as the beginning of the butterfly”. when it is superimposed with the longevity symbol it gives a person a long time to figure out reality and int that reality one finds enlightenment.

The back has a very ornate Infinite Knot that turns into durva grass. The Eternal, or Infinite, Knot (Sanskrit, "Srivastsa"), is the classic icon for the concept of reality. The interwoven lines are graphic representations of the concept that everything in the world is interconnected, and therefore, dependent origination is the underlying reality of existence.  The knot also reflects the endless cycle of death and rebirth, mirroring infinity and the wisdom of the Buddha. It also symbolizes the Buddha's endless wisdom and compassion. The sanskrit term means 'beloved of the goddess Shri.' Shri refers to Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, wherein the shrivatsa term in particular is the curl of hair in a 8 looped knot on the breast of Vishnu (just to further complicate the origins). Grass, in sanskrit, Durva, is a symbol for long (or Longer) life and is used in life-enriching rituals. grass, being hightly resilient, is believed to be immortal and so proclaims the end of samsara, the successeive death and rebirth of all beings.


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