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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Tibetan Buddhist Lama's Offering cabinet C020-35

Tibetan Buddhist furniture lama offering cabinet treasure jar, lotus jewels front view side view of unpainted Tibetan furniture
Front view
left side
click on above image to see larger view

The general theme of this beautifully decorated Tibetan Buddhist offering cabinet is acquiring the wisdom, life thoughts and actions that lead to becoming a Bodhichitta. The doors have two of the three holy flowers of Tibetan Buddhism, the Lotus and the Champaka, the latter always reminds me of fireworks. The upper panels have a grand Auspicious Treasure jar topped out with flaming Cintamani (jewels of wisdom), the lower panels adjacent to the Champaka doors has an ornate offering bowl filled with Cintamani and precious gold coral, all sitting on top of fine linen draped over leopard skins (representing wisdom). I have included some meditational aids in the iconography that comes with this cabinet. The art work is good as is the raised out-lining (kyungbur). The hinges of the doors are wood-pegs in the doors that fit into a hole in the underside of the top and slide into a groove on the horizontal frame. The door-pull is the vertical kyungbur-trim in the center of the two doors. The front trim is kyungbur (raised gesso) in a maroon and gold zigzag design.    The sides, back and top are a natural wood; the original oil and wax finish which has been cleaned and a danish finishing oil applied to help preserve the wood. The top is attached with wood pegs, the rest of the frame is mortise and tendon joinery. The wood is predominately Asian Cedar, with some pine, spruce and possibly elm thrown into the mix. Comes with a Certificate Of Authenticity. We have cleaned and treated the interior and exterior wood, (top, back and all sides) as well as cleaning the painted surfaces, which we have coated with a clear non-yellowing preservative.

This cabinet comes with a brush-signed Certificate of Authenticity (mailed from Reunion Island): the following will be emailed in PDF; the iconography/meditational aid and images of the Living Buddha that blessed this cabinet when we took possession of it.

Age: circa 1930-50
Materials: predominately oil pine
Dimensions: H=32" W=39.5" D=15"

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Price $1565.00 plus crating and shipping: West Coast $295, Mtn. States $310, Mid West $325, Atlantic coast $350  other destinations, contact us  for a quote. 

Iconography

The maroon 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 altar 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 top right and left panels each have the Auspicious Treasure Vase or Jar with the requisite silk scarf, topped with flaming Cintamani. This is then flanked by rock cliffs that are pointing to the Treasure jar. The Treasure Jar, one of Eight Auspicious Buddhist symbols, promises the good fortune of spiritual and material fulfillment, symbolizing the treasure of spiritual wealth.  Among those treasures is the jewel of enlightenment. It also extends to the material side and it is characteristic of the deities that symbolize prosperity. The Cintamani on top 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 and as well as the enlightened mind. The flames around the border of the Cintamani are symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment. 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 two upper doors have a stylized Lotus in the center with Lotus blossoms at each corner. Tibetan Buddhist mystics imagined the earth floating like a lotus flower on the oceans of the universe. The heart of the flower is the cosmic mountain, the axis of the universe. The generally acknowledged meaning of the lotus flower is purity of mind or divine creation. From the muck of a pond, where the roots of the lotus reside, an immaculate white flower emerges above the surface of the water as a metaphor for the harmonious unfolding of spirituality.

The lower doors each have three Champaka Blossoms shooting out of an ornate offering bowl with mare's tail cumulus clouds and durva (grass) in the background, and again there are the rock cliffs flanking the offering bowl. The Champaka is the 3rd flower of the holy trinity of flowers in Buddhist symbology, the 1st is the Lotus and the 2nd is the Ashoka. The Champaka is also called the camp flower. The Champaka is a white blossom from the wish-fulfilling tree & is an attribute of Maitreya Buddha, conferring love, compassion & beauty. 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.

The panels next to the Champaka flowered doors have an offering bowl filled with Cintamani, accompanied by two sets of elephant tusks and gold coral. The offering bowl is sitting just behind precious cloth draped over leopard skins. The top Cintamani since it is blue and surrounded by flames is the Precious Eight-faceted Jewel of Chakravartin. The elephant tusks represent the entire elephant and by extension it is an albino elephant that is also one of the Seven Precious Possessions of Chakravartin. 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. 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 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  Leopard's spots  resemble (according to Tibetans) the female vagina, consequently the flayed skin of the leopard is more commonly worn by dakinis or wrathful goddesses as a skirt or apron.  The large cat skins are most frequently associated with the wrathful deities, Mahakala is usually seen with the tiger skin wrapped around his waist.  Victory banners and the asama or meditational seats are also adorned with leopard skins, as are bow quivers. The leopard is also the messenger of the wrathful deities and additionally represents the death of pride, one of the 5 delusions and ultimate emptiness of of this delusion.  

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