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Manuscript Cover C055-07

Sakyamuni and disciples with Tibetan Buddhis symbolism

Tibetan Buddhist art with winter dragon symbolclick on the image to see larger view

Shakyamuni is depicted in three different poses with his two main disciples and an unidentified Bodhisattva. The depictions and their mudras provide great teachings to the serious practitioner, it is like getting three tangkas for the price of one (see iconography). The cover side has a great winter dragon and 4-petaled flowers. This manuscript cover is made out of a single plank and has a split or check running partially through the dragon side. There is also a slight warp or inward bend to the plank; the plank was cut near the center of the tree and this accounts for this activity which I am sure after 260 years it is quite done with this movement. The side and end of this manuscript cover have the "skyab dro" this is a blessing and is also called the Buddhism Refuge formula, please see iconography for details:.

 

This manuscript cover comes with a complete documentation package (map with history~iconography~essays and pictures about the monastery and people of the golden valley), and a Certificate of Authenticity brush signed by a monk at the Sange Monastery

Dimensions: W=35.75" H=9.5" Thickness= 1.75"
Material: Juniper
Circa: 1750 ~ front side is painted on a cloth glued to the board

SOLD SHIPPED TO BALGOWNIE, AUSTRALIA

Item #C055-07 price $795.00, plus shipping to australia $155.00

Iconography

The edges of the manuscript cover have the "skyab dro" this is a blessing and is also called the Buddhism Refuge formula it is as follows:

May all the sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness,
may they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
may they not be separated from true happiness, devoid of suffering,
may they dwell in great equanimity, which is free from attachment and aversion.

Until awakening I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,
May I realize Buddhahood,
through the merit of generosity and the other liberating qualities,
for the benefit of all beings.

Three different depictions of Shakyamuni grace this manuscript cover in different posses: in the left and center depictions he is accompanied by his two most famous disciples, Shariputra on his right and Maudgalyayana on his left. The philosophical and dialectical Shariputra is connected with Mahayana Buddhism, and the mediumistic and mystically oriented Maudgalyayana with Tantric Buddhism. Shariputra was recognized as the smarter of the two and that is why he is depicted to Shakyamuni's right. The left and right figures of Shakyamuni are seated in the diamond position on top of an Ashoka throne. The Vajrasana or diamond Position, is the position that Buddha Shakyamuni assumed on the last day before his enlightenment. Each of the figures has long earlobes, with the Bodhisattva wearing the Queen's earrings. The long earlobes of the Buddha are a symbol of his detachment from all things earthly. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices.

The left Shakyamuni's left hand is in the Dharmachakra AKA Inana, or gesture of Teaching. The dharmachakra symbolizes setting the Dharma wheel in motion. It recognizes the moment when Buddha sets the wheel moving with instruction that leads to enlightenment. In this gesture, the left hand is held in front of the heart, the thumb and index finger form a circle representing the Dharma and that it is to be taken to heart. His right hand is in the Karam or Gesture of Banishing, as in banishing demons and undesirable thoughts. Instruction of proper thought and action goes hand in hand with the banishing of selfish undesirable thoughts; we must remove the undesirable to have room for the clean thoughts. One of the parables that Jesus told was a metaphor about a person sweeping his house clean, meaning getting all of the dirt out of his mind, but if you do not have the proper thoughts ready to occupy the empty space, your house will soon fill up with more dirt: this is the essence of these two mudras used together like this.

The right side figure of Shakyamuni has his right hand in the Buddhashramana or Gesture Beyond Misery: it is also called an Ascetic's Gesture of Renunciation and symbolizing perseverance and knowing the difference between necessities and indulgences. The left hand is in a similar mudra, but this is called dhyana mudra or the the Gesture of meditation. All too often we cloak our selfish desires in good deeds, our motivations for doing good are self aggrandizement, and not to please the Source, to act in a divine manner: our own hearts deceive us and we must constantly check our hearts to know our self and thus have a clear path to enlightenment.

The central figure of Shakyamuni is walking in the clouds with three solid bands of repeating HUM, a single syllable mantra that is determination to maintain enlightenment. He is coming to aid, along with his two disciples, those who are following the true path of compassion by helping others. The HUM mantra is subtle energy coming from compassionate practitioners seeking to help others. The mudras support this, with the right hand in the Varada or Gesture of Charity, most often associated with a standing Buddha and the left hand in the Abhaya or Gesture of Comforting and Fearlessness. Varada symboliozes Shakyamuni summoning Heaven as a witness to his enlightenment and the gift of truth that Buddha offered to the world through severing ties to the world. Varada is also called the Gesture of Mercy. Abhaya is a gesture of comfort, blessing, and protection, as well a gesture of encouragement and fearlessness: signifying; don't be afraid.

The figures to the left of each Shakyamuni are each in prayer, interceding for others. The figures on the right all have an iron medicine bowl with healing nectar, amrita, as an aid to the practitioner. This healing nectar is made from a mystical plant called myrobalan or cherry plum.

The Ashoka Blossom throne is the second of the trinity of holy flowers, sprouting 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 and subsequent King that overcame all of his enemies to win freedom for his oppressed people.

Along the bottom of the front side are various depictions of Cintamani, elephant tusks and a flaming blue jewel. When Cintamani are 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 elephant tusks represent the entire elephant and along with the blue flaming jewel are two the the Seven Precious Possessions of Chakravartin. 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. 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 flaming blue jewel, an 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 sons/daughters passing on before mother/father. 

The back side of the manuscript cover has very nice brown winter dragon. The red border is adorned with gold, featuring a 4-petaled flower with scrolling durva grass radiating out. Unlike its demonic European counterpart, the Tibetan dragon is a creature of great creative power; a positive icon, representing the strong male yang principle of heaven, change, energy, wealth and creativity. Dragons are shape shifters, able to transform at will, from as small as the silkworm to a giant that fills the entire sky. Dragons are depicted in one of two colors, green or brown.  The green, or azure dragon of Buddhism ascends into the sky at the spring equinox; it represents the light's increasing power in springtime and the easterly direction of the sunrise. The brown dragon is the autumn equinox, when it descends into a deep pool, encasing itself in mud until the next spring, but its spirit is still with the practitioner bringing wealth and health. The pearls, or jewels clutched in the claws of the dragon represent wisdom and health. The dragon can control the weather by squeezing the jewels to produce dew, rain or even downpours when clutched tightly. The dragon is the vehicle of Vairochana, the white Buddha of the center or the east. 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.

 

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