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 B020-02

Tibetan Antique furniture with snowlions hand painted
click on above image to see larger view

 

The general theme of this cabinet is to learn the scriptures, change this knowledge into wisdom that results in compassionate action and the resulting enlightenment. I have included some meditational aids in the iconography that comes with this cabinet. This exceptional offering cabinet is one of the few pre-20th century Lama's offering cabinets we have and it dates to circa 1800. Snow Lions dominate the doors, each with a different background, while Ashoka blossoms and Cintamani are featured on the main panels. the upper and lower doors were done by different artists. This is the custom in Tibetan monastic art; there is a master artist and several apprentices that work on each piece. The borders and the fill work on the kyungbur are done by the junior apprentice while the more difficult areas are done by the master and the more skilled apprentices.  The art work is very clean, the shading is nicely done and the kyungbur is delicate and even. 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 done in the zigzag kyungbur (raised gesso), however instead of the usual red and gold there is a dark maroon and gold.  The only metal hardware on this piece are the round loops with silk road transit tax coins as the escutcheon for the drawer pulls on the drawer fronts.  The sides, back and top are a natural wood with the original oil and wax finish. The top is attached with bamboo pegs and at the back left corner there is a small piece missing at the corner peg. The wood is predominately Asian Cedar, with some pine and spruce thrown into the mix. Comes with a Certificate Of Authenticity. This cabinet has not been used, it was stored in one of the empty residences inside of the monastery for decades until we transported it to Shanghai in 2006.

This cabinet comes with a brush-signed Certificate of Authenticity, the iconography and meditational aid, map of the area with short history, and pictures of the area, people, their homes and essays about their lifestyle and economy.

Age: circa 1800

Dimensions: H=29" W=36.25" D=14.5"

SOLD SHIPPED TO MIDLOTHIAN VA

Price $2785.00 plus shipping and handling West Coast $240, Mtn. States $260, Mid West $278, Atlantic coast $295  Canadian 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.

Starting at the upper left and right front panels there are wonderful offering bowls filled with treasure. Both panels have a gold Treasure Jar, one of the eight auspicious symbols, the right one has a lid and the left one has durva grass issuing forth. Above the top of the Treasure jar is an Ashoka blossom, red, orange and pink on the left and shades of blue on the right panel. The offering bowl is filled with goodies, lots of Cintamani, elephant tusks, the King's and Queen's heavy earrings, red and gold coral, and some yogurt is also in the mix. The background is red with green and blue Mahamudra Mists that has gold trim. The base of the offering bowl has a Lotus throne. Underneath of the offering bowl are rainbows and mountains. The Treasure Jar AKA vase or urn (kalasa) 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 Durva grass is a symbol of long life. Because grass is highly resilient, it is believed to be immortal. Therefore, it proclaims the end of samsara, the successive death and rebirth of all beings It usually takes a long time to overcome samsara, and a longer life span will allow greater progress in moving towards enlightenment within a given cycle. 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. The blue hues of the right panel represents the death of ignorance and poisons and the red hues of the left Ashoka represent the transmutation of those passions into active compassion. 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 and as well as the enlightened mind. The elephant tusks, representing the entire elephant along with the King's and Queen's heavy earrings are 3 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.  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 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 heavy earrings of both the King and Queen 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. Like the Buddha, the King represents a wealth of faith, morality, honesty, modesty, learning, renunciation, and wisdom. The King is also referred to as the Precious minister. His intelligence is razor-sharp, with a great ability for patience and listening.  He desires to do only good works to promote the Dharma, to protect and benefit all beings. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices. The red and gold coral represent very precious offerings, while the slow process of making yogurt is a metaphor for transforming the spirit: by faithfully applying the principles of Buddhism, negative behavior is overcome and the clear nature of mind is revealed. 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.

The doors all have a well coiffured Snow Lion with plenty of cumulus clouds in the back ground. In three of the doors there are rock cliffs, one has Cintamani, elephant tusks, the King's and Queen's earrings and some stacks of mustard seeds. The Snow Lion is the national emblem of Tibet.  The Snow Lion resides in the East and represents unconditional cheerfulness, a mind freed from doubt, clear and precise. It has a beauty and dignity resulting from a synchronized body and mind. The Snow Lion has the youthful, vibrant energy of goodness and a natural sense of delight.  Sometimes, the throne of a Buddha is depicted with eight Snow lions on it.  In this case, they represent the 8 main Bodhisattva-disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha.  Associations: main quality is fearlessness, dominance over mountains, and the earth element. Mustard seeds symbolize overcoming obstacles by means of powerful action. rituals involving them are thought to destroy ignorance, the demons, the root of all suffering. Destroying these metaphorical demons is actually the surmounting of barriers that are the creations of ones own mind. 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 tops of these cliffs have Kusha grass growing out of them. Mustard seeds are connected to the wrath of the Buddhas. Wrath in this context does not suggest rage; it has more the sense of righteous indignation, a deity's powerful expression of spiritual energy. Mustard seeds are used in rituals to drive away demons who put obstacles in the path. The seeds are dispersed during the recitation of mantras. They are also burned to promote healing and to prevent or mitigate suffering instigated by obstacle-demons.

The panels adjacent to the lower doors have flaming Cintamani sitting upon an Ashoka throne that is supported by Kush grass. This is then surrounded by rainbows and rainbowed mountains and Mahamudra mists. This points out the importance of combining the wisdom and knowledge of the scriptures with purity of thought and compassionate action to gain enlightenment and achieve Mahamudra.

The drawers have a trefoil in hues of blue with white borders, supported by blue durva grass on a red background. The trefoil is a cloud design that signifies the 3 Cintamani as the body, speech and mind of Buddha that the practitioner will possess. The colors, red and blue, generally mean the transmutation of passion into compassion. In this case it has the added meaning with the white trim on the trefoil and durva grass of the 3 syllable mantra Om Ah Hum, again the body speech and mind of Buddha as in the acquisition of these properties. While reciting the mantra, one should meditate on the foreground; the blues (the destruction of passion and desires) and white to achieve the background of the red, which is the active compassion expressed by positive actions benefitting others.

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