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Tibetan Buddhist High Lama's Offering Altar C020-41

unpainted side of Tibetan shrine
front view
right side

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Excellent and vibrant art work employing a plethora of Tibetan Buddhist symbols on this offering shrine made for use in a Lama's residence. Every door and panel is striking with rich colors and meaningful symbols. The lute on the upper left and right panels have the typical green sound board; the lotus blossom on the upper doors have full bodied petals and long stems signifying a practitioner well above the muck of materialism. The Peacocks on the lower doors symbolize transmuting poisons into amrita or the nectar of healing and long life. Please see the iconography below for more details about this beautiful cabinet. The door-pulls are the vertical center-divider and open with the right hand door 1st which is typical of Tibetan cabinetry. The two drawers below the doors have an 16th or 17th century Chinese brass coin as the pull. The top, back & both sides are natural wood. This cabinet is very well done, the kyungbur is excellently applied with a steady smooth hand. The art work is very clean and crisp, of exceptional quality. The cabinet has been cleaned and treated with preservatives, both the painted surfaces and the unpainted wood. The art work is excellent along with the kyungbur which is smooth and well applied.

This cabinet was never used, it was made after a devastating attack in 1928 in which more than 1/2 of the village residents and monastery monks and lamas were killed by Muslim's that were being paid by the severed head to kill Buddhists. In one village close to Senge, every male inhabitant was killed. The residences were also partially destroyed along with some of the art work and furniture.

This cabinet comes with a brush-signed Certificate of Authenticity (which will be mailed from Reunion Island): the iconography/meditational aid (which will arrive as a PDF via email).

AGE: circa 1930-40   
Dimensions:   Height=33.5"  W=40.5" D=14.75" 
measurements are plus or minus up to 1/4th inch


C020-41 Price $1425.00,  plus crating and shipping: West Coast $295, Mtn. States $310, Mid West $325, Atlantic coast $350  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 altar 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 upper left and right panels have lutes on a Champaka pad or throne with Mahamudra Mists in the back ground. The Mahamudra mists are evident on all of the doors and panels except those with the peacocks. In Tibet, the lute is known as pi wang, in Sanskrit the vina.  In Tibetan art, the lute is held by such deities as Sarasvati, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom; Shabdavajra, the offering goddess of sound; Dhritarashtra, the white guardian king of the east; Vinadhara, the offering goddess of music; and the gandharvas, or celestial musicians.  The end of the lute's neck has makara-tail typical of Tibetan lutes. The sound box is covered with an animal skin. This is a sound-offering depiction The Champaka is the 3rd flower of the holy trinity of flowers in Buddhist symbology, the 1st is the Lotus and the 2nd is the Ashoka. The Champaka is also called the camp flower. The Champaka is a white blossom from the wish-fulfilling tree and is an attribute of Maitreya Buddha (the Future Buddha), conferring love, compassion & beauty.

The upper doors have well rendered lotus blossom with a long stem. 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 well 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 two lower doors embrace a colorful peacock. The peacock is a very important bird, 1st it is an emblem of romantic love and beauty. In Buddhism the peacock supports the throne of Amitabha, the red Buddha of the west (main qualities include passion (lotus), love, vital fluids, evening twilight, summer and fire). The peacock is the mortal enemy of snakes, killing cobras with their talons. The main quality of the peacock is transmutation of poison into amrita or nectar. This is tied to Lord Shiva getting a blue throat from taking the poison produced by the churning of the ocean; thus the transmutation of poison or venom by the peacock is said to produce the electric blue of its throat plumage and the wisdom eyes of its tail feathers. In Vajra yana symbolism a bundle of peacock feathers is used as a sprinkler for the consecrated water or amrita contained in the blessing flask. In specific tantric rituals individual feathers are used as fan, mirror, and parasol adornments, also as the feathers for darts, and as the peacock feather parasol used by the goddess Palden Lhamo, symbolizing her wisdom activities and the transmutation of all evils or poisons into wisdom.

The two panels adjacent to the peacock doors have rock cliffs with kusha grass growing in various places. 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. 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.

The drawers and the panels next to the drawers display the Mahamudra Mists along with other panels and doors. Mahamudra is the 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 and aid othe sentient beings along their journey.

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