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 High Lama's Offering Altar B005-09

Antique Tibetan Furniture hand painted with Buddhist symbols circa 1800
Tibetan Buddhist furniture side view of circa 1800 cabinet
front view
right side

click on above images to see larger images *also click on blue links in text for additional images

~The Solid Path to Enlightenment~

Cabinets with tigers typically were made for high lamas, geshes, or occasionally village chiefs.  The tiger is a symbol of strength and military prowess and additionally tigers represent method as in the method implemented to achieve enlightenment. The tigers are above rock cliffs representing reading and learning the scriptures; the cliffs are topped with kusha grass which is used for purification.  Tigers were indigenous to eastern Tibet, where the Sange (Wutun) Monastery is located, & tigers are depicted on furniture from eastern Tibet more often than in other regions.  On this piece, tigers are painted on each door. The door-pull is the vertical center-divider. The two drawers below the doors have an old brass coin & leather strap as the pull. The panels with the double dorje, Ashoka blossom next to the doors are fixed. Access to the space behind the tall panel is through the front doors, & access to the space behind the  Mahamudra Mist panels  is accomplished by removing the drawer, so this space would make a good secret hiding place. The top, back & both sides are natural wood. This cabinet is very well done, the kyungbur is thinner than most and the hand was quite steady that applied it. The art work is very clean and crisp, of exceptional quality. Please note the yin and yang spiral that is on the top of the tiger's head. The cabinet has been cleaned * (view prior to cleaning) and treated with preservatives, both the painted surfaces and the unpainted wood. The art work is excellent along with the kyungbur which is smooth and well applied.

This cabinet comes with a brush-signed Certificate of Authenticity (which will be mailed from Reunion Island): the iconography/meditational aid (which will arrive as a PDF via email).

AGE: circa early 1800s    
Dimensions:   Height=31.8"  W=40.5" D=15.5" 


B005-09 Price $1,965.00,  plus shipping & handling: West Coast $250, Mtn. States $279, Mid West $288, Atlantic coast $295  other destinations, contact us  for a quote. 


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 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 tiger is a symbol of strength, military prowess.  Tantric Buddhism offers a more subtle meaning.    Here, the tiger on the doors represents the transmutation of anger into wisdom & insight, also offering protection to the meditator from outside harm or spiritual interference. Consequently, tiger skins were favored as meditational mats for Tantric sages. Tigers were indigenous to eastern Tibet, where the Sange (Wutun in Chinese) monastery is located.  Tiger icons in Tibetan Buddhism are more prevalent in eastern Tibet & appear on more furniture & rugs here than elsewhere in Tibet. The top of the tiger's head and his two jowls have a yin-yang symbol that morphs into the tiger's stripes. The yin-yang, shaped like spiraled tear drops, constitute a circle that is divided in two by an S. The dot, not represented on this tiger, in the middle of each half symbolizes that each element at its highest point carries within itself the seed of its polar opposite, that it can change and cross over into the other. Yin is the female, the passive, the receptive, the dark and the soft. Yang is the masculine, the active, the light and the stern. The joining of the two created from the One is the source of creative energy in the Universe. Below the tiger are rock cliffs with kusha grass growing out of their tops. 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 and compliments the double dorje on the panels next to the doors. Kusha grass grows to a height of two feet and is used to purify defilements.  Those wishing purification sleep in a field or patch of kusha grass for ritual purification.  Placed under a pillow at night before initiation, Kusha grass is believed to produce clear dreams; it is also used to enhance the clarity of visualization and meditation.  Kusha is the grass of choice for the manufacture of sacred meditation mats.

The two drawers and their adjacent panels all have Dharma wheels; in three parts, the wheel exists as a hub, the center of the world.  The 8 spokes denote the 8 paths to enlightenment. These 8 steps work together, not separately.  1. right understanding . 2. right attitude  3. right speech  4. right action  5. right work    6. right effort  7. right mindfulness  8. right meditation  The rim represents the attribute of limitation.  All are contained within a circle, which is perceived to be perfect and complete, like the teachings of the Buddha. The Center of the Dharma wheels on those panels is a torma, as well as the decorations surrounding all of the wheels. this is a casting out of poisons and delusions, which must be accomplished before true spiritual movement along the Path to Enlightenment can be accomplished.

 The panels flanking the doors are adorned at the top with a double dorje, over an Ashoka Blossom, which is supported by durva (grass), and at the bottom are more rock cliffs and rainbows. 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 Amoghasiddhi, lord of the north, the Karma Family Buddha, whose name means "Unfailing Accomplishment."  The double Dorje represents the indestructibility of all phenomenal essence.  It serves as a symbol of harmony, immutability, and all -knowingness. The Ashoka, 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. The rainbow is eternity’s expression of momentary delight. This is Auspicious and takes on a supernatural meaning: the demise of a great teacher and his rebirth.  Rainbows materialize and dissolve into nothingness, and in Tibetan tradition, it is the “Body of Light” or the “Rainbow Body”  and refers to a great master who has attained Mahamudra and no longer perceives the world as a conceptual concrete dimension; rather, he now permeates space as mist, also known as the ultimate form of reality. The self is now permeating space with luminescence transparency, with nothing solid or any sharp lines of separation.

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