A Tsebum is ornately displayed on a red stand of Durva grass on the front, with cumulus clouds in the sky. At the edges the Mahamudra Mists are just starting to come into view. The rock cliff on the right portion is in a Makara simularca. The Tsebum is a jar that holds the nectar of immortality and it is quite fitting that Durva grass is supporting this wonderful jar. 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. Mare's tail cumulus clouds which 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 billowing clouds or mist, on the edges, 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."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 rock cliffs and the Makara simularca go hand in hand as the Makara represents power, firmness and unshakeability, and specifically the crocodile nature; crocs are noted for grabbing hld of their prey and not letting go. Makaras are a composite of several animals, the main one being the crocodile.
The top of this box also has a simularca, it is Mt. Meru in the form of a snowlion's face with water coming out of the nose and mouth. On each side of the mouth there is the 8-faceted Jewel of Chakravartin, 4 Cintamani, these then flanked by elephant tusks. In the upper corners are sets of 4 bael fruit. The cosmology of Mt. Meru is definitely out side of the scope of this iconography, in the simplest of explanations it is the center of the universe and within the human body it represents both the spine and the central channel. The highest tier of Mt. Meru is inhabited by the 4 guardian kings of the four directions. The Snow Lion represented in this simularca 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. The wood apple, or bael fruit, is a baseball-sized fruit with a hard skin and a sticky, highly aromatic pulp. This fruit is eaten more for its medicinal qualities than for its taste. Bael fruit increases one's beneficial, positive karma and thus brings one closer to release from samsara. The fruit also symbolizes the goal of recognizing emptiness and dependency and the connection between cause and effect. It challenges us to avoid actions that will cause suffering and to increase actions that will promote healing. The Eight-faceted jewel, as in having eight magical properties and not 8 beveled faces: 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 flames around the border of the 8-faceted jewel are symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment. The 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 sides feature a single lotus blossom in the budding stage. The lotus is an important Buddhist motif. Images of the Buddha and other important persons often are shown seated on a lotus throne. The growth of the lotus, with its roots in mud, growing through water, and emerging as a wonderful plant above the water's surface, is seen as an analogy of the soul’s path from the mud of materialism to the purity of enlightenment. The 3 stages of the lotus, bud, utpala (mid-blossom) and the full blossoming throne represent the past present and future respectively.