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Tibetan Offering furniture ~ Chösum Stand C609 "A Torma, a Shou in a Shou; Reality's Wisdom"

Antique Tibetan Furniture with longevity stylized shou symbol with torma underlays
Antique Tibetan hand painted offering cabinet with 4 of Chakravartin's Precious possessions painted on front
Tibetan antique shrine side view depicting Shou longevity character with torma underlays circa 1900
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Chosum stand AKA yak butter lamp stand with an iconic theme of grasping reality over time through following scriptures, made in the late 19th century. Going further, the general theme of this Antique Tibetan furniture is one of a long life that results in understanding that reality is not what we see, but what we do and how we behave. The kyungbur is excellent and the doors boldly calls the practitioner to meditate with stacked Cintamani and Chakravartin's Precious Jewel flaming at the top of the stack, along with more of Chakravartin's Precious possessions and other Buddhist symbols as well. The drawers are above the doors with 17th century Chinese coins as the backing for the pulls, featuring rock cliffs in the form of Tibetan script that is a greeting of the utmost respect. The sides are completely done in kyungbur, presenting a very complex set of inner twined symbology: the shou symbol, longevity, in the center, done with a mixture of torma offering and durva grass then morphs into the shou character, referring to reality perception. Please see iconography for more details. The Chösum stand is painted on both sides and the front, the top and back are not painted. This style evolved over the centuries, with the widening to two doors happening at the end of the 19th century. This Chösum stand comes with background information, iconography and a Certificate of Authenticity signed by one of the monks.

Materials:  Asian cedar & spruce
Dimensions:  H 32" W=30" D=15 5/8 "
Age circa: 1900

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Item #C609:  Price $1335.00, plus shipping & handling
West Coast $220~ Mtn. States $229~ Mid West $238~Atlantic coast $245
Other destinations contact us  for a quote. 

Iconography

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 front doors have magnificent thought provoking ensemble; starting at the bottom, a stack of Cintamani with the top Cintamani actually being Chakravartin's Precious jewel with its own gold flames: along side of the Cintamani are elephant tusks (representing the Precious Elephant), the Precious Queen's earrings and white coral. Precious denotes that they are among the 7 Precious possessions of Chakravartin. In the center is Mt. Meru and above that is 4 bilva fruit acting as the 4 petaled flower (4-noble truths) with the Precious General's Insignia fitted in to complete the thought as the final 4 spokes of the 8 spoked dharma path. Floating around in the ether are offerings of yogurt, all surrounded by mare's tail cumulus clouds. 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 following are the Precious Possessions of Chakravartin on the front doors: 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.  Elephant tusks are sometimes depicted and are symbolic of the whole elephant. 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 detachment from all things earthly. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices. The Precious 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. General's insignia (Sanskrit senapatiratna),  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 drawers have undulating rock cliffs with kusha grass growing out of them. This undulation of the rocks corresponds with the Tibetan script denoting a greeting of the utmost respect. 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.

The side main panel is rather complex in meaning and yet simple in the design: in the center is a red torma offering; when coupled with the gold durva grass that spirals and undulates out we get to the Shou, longevity symbol, and this with the continuing lines of the durva grass then becomes the Shou character (butterfly), which 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." Best stated as; by making offerings, or sacrifices such as helping widows and orphans over a long life, reality then becomes LOVE, given freely to others without expectations of return. Only LOVE is real.

ABOUT Chösum:

The Tibetan name is Chösum for the cabinet presented on this page. They were used as a butter lamp stand and as a butter sculpture stand for offerings and ritual purposes. It also housed the torma, a small sculpture used as an offering, made of tsampa. Tsampa is a staple of the Tibetan diet, composed of barley powder and yak butter. Usually once each year the High Lama will come to the practitioners house with the torma stick (see below), a long 4 sided mold for making different offerings, and make specific offerings for the family. Using the tsampa dough the High Lama would press the required amount into the carved molds on the torma stick for  each specific request or need.  These then will be kept for the entire year in the cabinet, taken out periodically and placed on the top of the cabinet and a little melted butter will be added for a new offering.   Ornate Chösum stands like this one   would only be found in a labrang (lama’s home).

Tibetan buddhist toma stick use for making offering on Tibetan furniture
The Torma stick has carved molds on all 4 sides, these carvings are the Auspicious symbols, the 12 zodiac symbols, peaceful and wrathful deities and other iconic representations and offerings. The Torma stick pictured here is more than 300 years old, over 27" in length and is  a very large one; usually they are about 1/3 to 1/4 this size.  It developed a small check or crack that cuts through the Dharma wheel, Parasol and the Victory Banner rendering it unsuitable for making those molds.

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