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C500-26 Tibetan Buddhist Reading Desk ~~Zipak and dragon

Tibetan reading desk circa 1930 front view with Buddhist symbols Tibetan zipak on left side of reading desk furniture
front view left side view [there is some flash wash in the large image]
Top view of Tibetan Reading desk with winter dragon painted Tibetan buddhist furniture reading desk with zipak symbol
top view right side view [there is some flash wash in the large image]

Click on the thumbnail pictures above to see larger views

Masterful art work on this lama's reading desk endowed with a classic design. The sides have an endearing Zipak on practitioner guard duty complete with his jewels of wisdom. The front has a wonderful set of Buddhist symbols that speak volumes: a 24ks gold offering bowl, emanating subtle energy,that contains Cintamani, the Precious Queen's earrings and the Precious elephant's tusks along with the auspicious Treasure Jar and a jar of Tse Bum. The excellently rendered top has a winter dragon with the usual flames at the joints and Cintamani ready to be clutched by the paws. It was used by a lama to read and teach the Tibetan Buddhist scriptures. The end supports pivot underneath the table top, the entire front support then pivots over the top of the two end supports into a cavity (image not of this reading desk) that is under the top. The apron continuing around to the back side is done in the hallmark kyungbur that originated at the Sange Monasteries in the 13th century. The gold work on the sides and front is 24kt gold. The size of the top is just perfect for reading the conventional loose leaf pages of Tibetan scriptures. These scriptures are printed using wood blocks. Ghomar Monastery, just across the valley has a print house and a vast repository of the woodblocks used for printing. The opening in the back allows for the reader to sit in the diamond position with the top over their legs. More information is available in our recently published book that is available here and on Amazon.com. Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity brush signed by a monk at the Sange monastery, a PDF of the iconography with images and a PDF of the lama that blessed the table.

Age: circa 1930
Dimensions (overall)    H=12" W=30.25" D=13.5" 

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item #C500-26 Price $835.00, plus crating and shipping: ~WEST COAST $90.00 MTN STATES $105.00 ~ MID-WEST $115.00 ~ EAST COAST $125.00


  The zigzag gold and red design on the apron represents the transmutation of passion in to compassion and the purity of thought and actions that comes from this transformation. 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 dominated by a brown winter dragon ready to clutch Cintamani. The dragon is surrounded by cumulus clouds, some of which have a mare's tail. At the inside corners of the top are Lotus blossoms. The tibetan dragon,  unlike its demonic European counterpart, is a creature of great creative power; a positive icon, representing the strong male yang principle of heaven, change, energy, wealth and creativity. Dragons are shape shifters, able to transform at will, from as small as the silkworm to a giant that fills the entire sky. Dragons are depicted in one of two colors, green or brown.  The green, or azure dragon of Buddhism ascends into the sky at the spring equinox; it represents the light's increasing power in springtime and the easterly direction of the sunrise. The brown dragon is the autumn equinox, when it descends into a deep pool, encasing itself in mud until the next spring, but its spirit is still with the practitioner bringing wealth and health. The pearls, or jewels clutched in the claws of the dragon represent wisdom and health. The dragon can control the weather by squeezing the jewels to produce dew, rain or even downpours when clutched tightly. The dragon is the vehicle of Vairochana, the white Buddha of the center or the east. Cumulus clouds are quite common in Tibet and the mare's tail depiction denotes the fast movement. The 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 generally acknowledged meaning of the lotus flower is purity of mind or divine creation. From the muck of a pond, where the roots of the lotus reside, an immaculate white flower emerges to rise above the surface of the water as a metaphor for the harmonious unfolding of spirituality. 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 soulís path from the mud of materialism to the purity of enlightenment.

The front support has a cornucopia of Buddhist symbols: first is a gold offering bowl with subtle energy radiating out of the back. The bowl it filled with Cintamani, the Precious Queen's earrings and the Precious elephant's tusks. The top Cintamani in the stack of three is also the Precious Eight-faceted jewel. The offering bowl is set in front of fine cloths draped over leopard skins. Behind the skins and cloth are gold coral, and on the left the Auspicious treasure Jar, and to the right is the jar containing Tse Bum. Finally at the lower corners of the front support are bilva fruit in sets of three. The subtle energy is quite important, it is a result of the practitioners good works and meditative thought process the influences the course of events. The greater the compassionate heart the greater the influence of that subtle energy.

The Cintamani in the offering bowl are wish-granting jewels and additionally represent wisdom.   Cintamani are also referred to as the “Thinking Jewel” and symbolize the importance of teaching and as well as the enlightened mind. The top Cintamani is Chakravartin's Precious eight-faceted jewel. The Precious Queen's earrings, the Precious Elephant and the Precious Eight-faceted jewel, as in having eight magical properties, are all 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 Queen's heavy earrings 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 her detachment from all things earthly. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices. 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.  Elephant tusks, when depicted are symbolic of the whole elephant. The Precious Eight-Facet Jewel has eight qualities and not eight faces as the name might suggest. 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 fine cloths draped over leopard skins are an offering as well as the gold coral behind them. The leopard skins however have a deeper meaning. 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. The leopard is also the messenger of the wrathful deities and additionally represents the death of pride, one of the 5 delusions and ultimate emptiness of of this delusion.

The Treasure jar, also called a 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.

Tse bum or "long-life vase", a jar in which the "nectar of immortality" is kept. This is a concept of reality, our spirit or essence is housed in a container which we refer to as our body, we transition after the body dies and after a period of time obtain a new container to continue our work towards enlightenment. The path we travel is contained in the scriptures, which are represented by the blue and green rock cliffs.

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