Tibetan buddhist Temple
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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Tibetan Buddhist Lama's Offering cabinet C020-43

Tibetan furniture hand painted with Buddhist symbols Dharma Wheel and lotus blossom on front side view of hand painted Tibetan furniture non painted side
Front view
left side
click on above image to see larger view

Nicely painted piece of Tibetan furniture with plenty of Buddhist symbols. The top row of panels and doors have some curious rock cliffs; the panels with the Champaka blossoms coming out of the cliffs and the doors with subtle energy radiating from the cliffs as a metaphor for what can be accomplished by following the Scriptures. The rock cliffs appear to be in a simulacra of the stacked beginning or condensed initial syllables in Sanskrit OM HAM of the 10 syllable Kalachakra mantra and that would explain the subtle energy. The art work is good as is the raised out-lining (kyungbur). The Dharma Wheels on the lower doors have the yin-yang symbol as their hubs; the lotus blossoms on the doors next to them are in full bloom: looking inward to find that spiritual heart that is in full bloom. I have included some meditational aids in the iconography that comes with this cabinet. The hinges of the 4 doors are wood-pegs in the doors that fit into a hole in the underside of the top and slide into a groove on the horizontal frame. The door-pull is the vertical kyungbur-trim in the center of the two doors. The front trim is kyungbur (raised gesso) in a red and gold zigzag design. There are two drawers at the bottom with a circa 18th century Chinese coin as the backing for the drawer pull.    The sides, back and top are a natural wood with the original oil and wax finish which has been cleaned and a danish finishing oil applied to help preserve the wood. The top is attached with wood pegs, the rest of the frame is mortise and tendon joinery. The wood is predominately Asian Cedar, with some pine, spruce and possibly elm thrown into the mix. Asian cedar, an aromatic wood, naturally repels insects and is the wood used to to send prayers to the Wind or prayer horse. We have cleaned and treated the interior and exterior wood, (top, back and all sides) as well as cleaning the painted surfaces, which we have treated with a clear non-yellowing preservative.

This cabinet comes with a brush-signed Certificate of Authenticity (mailed from Reunion Island): the following will be emailed in PDF; the iconography/meditational aid and images of the lama that blessed the shrine.

Age: circa early-mid 1900s

Dimensions: H=33.25" W=40.62" D=14.62"


Price $1375.00 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 top row of doors and panels can be taken as a whole considering the rock formations in each; this appears to be a simulacra of the stacked beginning or condensed initial syllables in Sanskrit OM HAM of the 10 syllable Kalachakra mantra. This by itself would represent getting into the right mind with right wisdom. Out of the cliffs on the panels are two Champaka blossoms and out of the doors are subtle energy. The Champaka is a white blossom from the wish-fulfilling tree & is an attribute of Maitreya Buddha, conferring love, compassion & beauty. Subtle energy is what the tantric practitioner generates as an influence of will in the cosmos, it is being in harmony with the cosmos, that higher state of love and compassion. Additionally 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. In the background there are mare's tail cumulus clouds and also the Mahamudra Mists. 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." Intermixed with the Mahamudra mists are 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 bottom doors have a lotus blossom in full bloom, again with a mixture of mare's tail cumulus clouds and the Mahamudra mists. As the upper panels and doors may signify the Kalachakra it is only fitting that they be above a lotus as that is the usual setting. The lotus flower, like the clouds, is another natural symbol and represents earth.  Tibetan Buddhist mystics imagined the earth floating like a lotus flower on the oceans of the universe. The heart of the flower is the cosmic mountain, the axis of the universe. 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 rest on the surface of the water as a metaphor for the harmonious unfolding of spirituality.

The lower panels next to the doors are graced with Dharma Wheels. At the corners of the doors are lotus blossoms and durva grass. In the center of the Dharma Wheel is the yin-yang symbol. The  Dharma Wheel ~~Sanskrit chakra ~ Tibetan `khor lo is in three parts, the wheel exists as a hub, the center of the world.  The 8 spokes denote the 8 paths to enlightenment. These 8 steps work together, not separately.  1. right understanding . 2. right attitude  3. right speech  4. right action  5. right work    6. right effort  7. right mindfulness  8. right meditation  The rim represents the attribute of limitation.  All are contained within a circle, which is perceived to be perfect and complete, like the teachings of the Buddha. The hub is the yin-yang symbol. The yin-yang, shaped like spiraled tear drops, constitute a circle that is divided in two by an S. The dot in the middle of each half symbolizes that each element at its highest point carries within itself the seed of its polar opposite, that it can change and cross over into the other. Yin is the female, the passive, the receptive, the dark and the soft. Yang is the masculine, the active, the light and the stern. The joining of the two created from the One is the source of creative energy in the Universe. 

The two drawers at the bottom have stack of three Cintamani, again set in the Mahamudra mists, that are flanked by elephant tusks. 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 flames around the border of the top blue Cintamani are symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment. Additionally the top Cintamani, being blue and surrounded by flames makes it Chakravartin's 8-faceted Precious Jewel; on of Chakravartin's Seven Precious Possessions along with the elephant as represented by the tusks. 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. 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 always symbolic of the whole elephant. The Eight-faceted jewel, as in having eight magical properties. 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.

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