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Tibetan Offering furniture ~ Chösum Stand C617 "Understanding and Wisdom"

Antique Tibetan Buddhist Furniture with buddhist symbols Infinite Knot
Antique Tibetan Buddhist Furniture with Buddhist symbolism mongoose and wisdom
Tibetan Buddhist shrine with jewels and Infinite knot
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Chosum stand AKA yak butter lamp stand with an iconic theme of grasping the jewels of wisdom; made in the late 19th century. A busy mongoose is on each of the front doors, both guarding and dispensing wisdom. Above the mongoose is a lotus getting ready to fully open. 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, completely done in kyungbur (the raised gesso outlining) feature an Infinite Knot sitting on an Ashoka throne. 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 an iconography and a Certificate of Authenticity signed by one of the monks. For historical information about this piece purchase the book "The Golden Valley; The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet"

Materials:  Asian cedar & oil pine
Dimensions:  H 31.4" W=29.5" D=15.6 "
Age circa: 1900

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Item #C617:  Price $1475.00, 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 are bordered by blue and red Chrysanthemums and feature two prominent Buddhist symbols, the mongoose and the lotus blossom. The chrysanthemum 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 compassion. In the background of the lotus blossom are mare's tail cumulus clouds. The mongoose is a traditional enemy of Nagas and snakes, (both treasure guardians), the mongoose is usually seen spitting out colored jewels of wisdom or Cintamani.  The symbol may have its origin in the central Asian custom of using a mongoose skin as a money bag.Mare's tail cumulus clouds which 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.

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 drawers have rock cliffs with kusha grass growing out of them pointing towards a stack of three Cintamani with the top cintamani also representing Chakravartin's Precious Eight-faceted Jewel. 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. 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, as well as the enlightened mind. 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.

The side main panel is classic Tibetan design with stings of red and blue Cintamani hanging down from the top portion. Underneath this is the dominate feature, the Infinite Knot poised above a sun disk with three Cintamani on an Ashoka throne. Behind the Infinite Knot is a large cloud of the Mahamudra Mists and all of this is surrounded by majestic durva (grass). At the bottom are the important rock cliffs, this time done in red and blue. The red and blue repeating theme of the side refers to the transmutation of passion into compassion, this is an active quality, not mere words or empty thoughts, but action in helping other sentient beings.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). 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 Ashoka, which is 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.

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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