Tibetan buddhist Temple
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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Chösum Stand B013.04
Baronet 4 Tibet, Art Galleries, Dealers & Consultants, Vancouver, WA
left view 3 panels red trim with flowers front view drawer over two doors red trim with lotus flowers right view 3 panels red trim with flowers
left side front view right side

Click on images & underlined text to see larger views.

This yak butter lamp AKA Chosum stand is probably a companion to the 3 section cabinet B003-03 painted during the same time frame. Both are unusual in that they feature the lotus blossom and have styling that is not typical of the Sange Monastic tradition. Elements of this stand's painting on the frame start to show up at the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th century. The stand is decorated with red and blue Lotus blossoms with hints of grape vines in the background. The top is painted red with no designs & shows a considerable accumulation of soot which has permeated the red paint. This was probably used by a lama of considerable intellect and standing.   The top section is a drawer with a classy round brass-pull, with the customary brass coin as the pull's escutcheon. There are two doors in the lower section that open from the center. The door-pull is the vertical divider between the doors & opens the right-hand door; the hinges are pegs in the top & bottom of the door that fit into a hole in the underside of the upper frame & a graduated slot in the lower part of the frame. The door-pull has been repaired. When the doors open, they reveal a shelf that divides the interior space.

Materials:  Asian cedar & spruce
Dimensions:  H 30.75" W=17" D=16.5" measurements are approximate.
Age circa 1850

Item #B013.04:  Price $775.00, plus shipping & handling: West Coast $130, Mtn. States $140, Midwest $150, Atlantic coast $165 Canadian destinations, contact us for a quote


get questions answered  by emailing david@baronet4tibet.com


 The growth of the lotus, its roots in mud, growing through water, & emerging as a wonderful plant above the surface, is seen as an analogy of the soul’s path from the mud of materialism to the air of enlightenment.  Just as the lotus blossom rises above the mud & is beautiful, so must you raise your thinking with pure thoughts that are noble & praiseworthy; then, you also will be beautiful. The lotus in mid-blossom represents the present time; a bud represents the past, while the full-bloom represents the future. The general theme is one of transmutation of passion into active compassion. The blue is symbolic of the actual change-over, the death of passion or desires and the red is the fulfillment, the fruits of the efforts expended; true compassion as an active way of life.

The frame is decorated with a blue and green cloud design. These are mare's tail cumulus clouds that are linked together. 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.

Just under the top edge is the continuous T-wave, which is also called the thunder wave and represents the double dorje, is an epiphany, a sudden realization;  Dorje (Tibetan) thunderbolt, or double diamond, ("visvavajra" in sanskrit). Its four heads represent the four Dhyani Buddha. Of these, it is associated primarily with Akmoghasiddhi, lord of the north, the Karma Family Buddha, whose name means "Unfailing Accomplishment."  The double Dorje represents the indestructibility of all phenomenonal essence.  It serves as a symbol of harmony, immutability, and all -knowingness.

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 toma, 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 toma 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 toma 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 Toma 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 Toma 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 formaking those molds.


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