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Tibetan Offering furniture ~ Chösum Stand C616 "Overcome Delusions ~ Realize One's Immortality "

Tibetan Buddhist lamp stand with Long Life elixir Tse Bum
Antique Tibetan Buddhsit lamp stand with albino alephants on front
Antique Tibetan yak butter lamp stand painted Buddhist symbols side view

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A late 19th century Chosum stand AKA yak butter lamp stand with an iconic theme of casting out poisons, overcoming delusions while realizing immortality is reality. Two albino elephants are engaged in a care free existence in a magical setting of mountains, active clouds with beneficial fruit floating in the sky are rendered on the front doors. The sides give prominent place to a Tse Bum (nectar of immortality) jar held aloft by a neatly detailed Ashoka pad. The drawers are above the doors with 17th century Chinese coins as the backing for the pulls, featuring Mahamudra Mists. Please see iconography below for more details. The sides are completely done in kyungbur (the raised gesso outlining). The Chösum stand is painted on both sides and the front, the top and back are not painted. This style evolved over the centuries, with the widening to two doors happening at the end of the 19th century. This Chösum stand comes with an iconography and a Certificate of Authenticity signed by one of the monks. For historical information about this piece purchase the book "The Golden Valley; The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet"

Materials:  Asian cedar & oil pine
Dimensions:  H 31.5" W=29.5" D=15.75 "
Age circa: 1900


Item #C616:  Price $1425.00, plus shipping & crating
West Coast $250~ Mtn. States $269~ Mid West $275~Atlantic coast $285
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 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.

The front doors are bordered by blue and red Chrysanthemums and feature two albino elephants engaged in a care free existence in a magical setting of mountains, active clouds with beneficial fruit floating in the sky. The chrysanthemum symbolizes autumn & the gathering of the harvest. In this case, it is a metaphor for achieving the goal of enlightenment and its accompanying peace. The blue represents compassion. Red is the transmutation of passion into compassion. The albino elephant is reputed to be the hardest elephant to control. The elephant is one of four divisions of the Indian military system, the others are the horse, chariots and infantry. Battle elephants were specifically trained to obtain perfect obedience and to withstand the ravages of the battlefield. The elephant in battle was the unstoppable remover of obstacles. Wild elephants were noted for their symbolic activities of uprooting, tearing, crashing and bellowing. This leads to the flayed skin of the elephant adorning wrathful deities as symbolizing the deity having torn the elephant of ignorance asunder. The trained elephant, as the most powerful of creatures, represents endurance, self-control, patience and gentleness, and the power of Buddha.
One significance of the fast moving clouds above the elephants 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 fruit is Bilva fruit in sets of 4, which in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy represents the Four Noble Truths. Bilva fruit, also known as the Bengal quince, medicinally, is a potent astringent and highly regarded for its purifying qualities in traditional Indian folk medicine.  The unripe interior of the fruit, especially when made into a jam, was the best known cure for diarrhea and dysentery.  It is regarded as one of the most sacred fruits and serves as one of the main offering fruits.  In this offering of Bilva fruit, representing the sense-offering of taste, the Buddha Amoghasiddhi is manifested as motivation or will. 

The drawers exhibit colorful Mahamudra Mists. Mahamudra is 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 side main panel, done in kyungbur holds aloft traditional Tibetan Buddhist icons: a classic Tse Bum radiating subtle energy, supported on an Ashoka throne. Below the Tse Bum jar are rock cliffs giving way to the splendor of the Tse Bum's purpose. Tse Bum is a jar containing the nectar of immortality. Radiating out of the top back side of the jar is subtle energy. Subtle energy represents a tantric/mantric and mahasiddhic practice or understanding where in the practitioner exerts influence over the cosmos: a thought turned to action or an event solely by thought process. The Ashoka, which is 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. Below the Ashoka pad are blue and green rock cliffs; representing 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. By connecting the icons in philisophical thought, by following the scriptures, casting out one's poisons and delusions, a realization that immortality is the reality and with proper thought, events and circumstances can be changed to benefit other sentient beings.

ABOUT Chösum:

The Tibetan name is Chösum for the cabinet presented on this page. They were used as a butter lamp stand and as a butter sculpture stand for offerings and ritual purposes. It also housed the torma, a small sculpture used as an offering, made of tsampa. Tsampa is a staple of the Tibetan diet, composed of barley powder and yak butter. Usually once each year the High Lama will come to the practitioners house with the torma stick (see below), a long 4 sided mold for making different offerings, and make specific offerings for the family. Using the tsampa dough the High Lama would press the required amount into the carved molds on the torma stick for  each specific request or need.  These then will be kept for the entire year in the cabinet, taken out periodically and placed on the top of the cabinet and a little melted butter will be added for a new offering.   Ornate Chösum stands like this one   would only be found in a labrang (lama’s home).

Tibetan buddhist toma stick use for making offering on Tibetan furniture
The Torma stick has carved molds on all 4 sides, these carvings are the Auspicious symbols, the 12 zodiac symbols, peaceful and wrathful deities and other iconic representations and offerings. The Torma stick pictured here is more than 300 years old, over 27" in length and is  a very large one; usually they are about 1/3 to 1/4 this size.  It developed a small check or crack that cuts through the Dharma wheel, Parasol and the Victory Banner rendering it unsuitable for making those molds.

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