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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Tibetan Buddhist Water Offering Cabinet C901

Tibetan Buddhist Furniture shrine Tibetan Buddhist Furniture shrine
front view right side

Nice art work on this, our last water offering cabinet, the door has very intricate kyungbur outlining Durva grass in 24kt gold radiating out from longevity symbols in the corners; this surrounding a healthy leopard. The top center gallery has Cintamani flanked by elephant tusks. This is a specifically  designed cabinet  for the water offering; however as with all Tibetan furniture it has multiple usages.  Atisha sanctioned the water offering for Tibet only when he visited there as he found that the water was so pure. These cabinets have been mistakenly identified as reading desks due to a photograph taken by Guicci that shows monks reading at them. When I asked the High Lama at the Lower Sange Monastery about this he laughed and stated how uncomfortable it would be to read at a desk like this (which was my though also).   It has a single door, and the hinges are wood-dowels in the top and bottom edges that fit into a hole bored into the underside of the horizontal frame, with a tapered slot in the bottom frame-opening.    This cabinet is made from Asian cedar and is painted on the front and the inside portions of the offering gallery using the raised gesso or kyungbur  technique. The earliest known use of this technique is at the Wutun Monastery (we have carbon dated a piece to 1510 AD which is 200 years prior to the previous oldest piece) and the monastery is most probably the point of origin of this technique. The sides,  top and back are a natural oil finish. The left galley has some damage to the kyungbur and painting. The top is pegged to the frame using bamboo and the planks have separated slightly. The left side at some point decades ago had some red paint spilled, covering a good portion of that side. Comes with a Certificate Of Authenticity.

AGE: circa 1900     
 Dimensions:   Height to horizontal offering top=24.5"  Height to top of gallery 30.75"W=31.62" D=14.25" 

If you have questions, contact David by email at david@baronet4tibet.com

SOLD SHIPPED TO MARSHALL, VA

C901 Price $1975.00,  plus shipping and handling West Coast $170, Mtn. States $179, Mid West $188, Atlantic coast $195  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.  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 center gallery has flaming Cintamini, with Kusha grass as the flames' this is flanked on both sides by elephant tusks. This then gives way to durva grass and the Mahamudra mists. 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. 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. When elephant tusks are depicted they are symbolic of the whole elephant, and most often refer to Chakravartin's Precious elephant. 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." We are said to be in the reign of the 24th Kulika King. 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 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." 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 lifespan will allow greater progress in moving towards enlightenment within a given cycle.

The left and right portions of the gallery have mountains and rainbows. The mountains are the acknowledged source of life giving water. 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 front door is a precursor for the Choyon trunks of the mid-20th century. The center motiff, a leopard is set in the pure lands. The leopard is seen as if through a looking glass, with longivity symbols in the corners the radiate out 24kt gold durva grass to compliment the longevity symbols. This then is surrounted by a border of red white and blue chrysthantemums. 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. This then becomes a symbol of overcoming the obstacles to enlightenment with the help of effective methods. 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. The white tips denote purity.

The panels next to the door have a sylized camp flower, with durva grass for fronds, sitting above the mountains and rainbows.

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