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Tibetan Buddhist Altar 0310.36

Tibetan furniture Buddhist altar with camel
Tibetan Furniture painted altar with Double dorje
front view top view
tibetan buddhist altar hand painted with Auspicious offerings Tibetan Altar with Buddhist symbolism
left side right side

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#0310.36:  Good art work on an altar that that speaks to holding onto enlightenment and helping others along the path. Each door has a Bactrian camel carrying a load of tangkas. The Bactrian camel is indigenous to the Gobi desert and the steppes of eastern Tibet were the Sange monasteries are located. The camel on the right door seems to be just a bit miffed as he does not have the subtle energy or the 3rd Precious jewel that the camel on the left door has. Please read the iconography for more details. The top is in the layered look which is more favored by the monks at the lower Sange monastery. This table comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Lha Sang, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk at the Wutun Monastery and most probably the artist that painted this Tibetan Buddhist altar (as it had been a few decades between painting and signing of the certificate two of the monks could not remember exactly which ones they painted). The door-pull is the vertical  trim ornamented in gesso at the center of the two doors. The top, front, and both sides  are hand-painted and the attention to detail is exceptional. The only metal hardware on this piece are the brass coins on the drawer fronts. The hinges of the 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 base. The wood is Asian cedar solids. The trim is done in the gesso (kyungbur) technique that dominates Tibetan Buddhist art and is a hall mark of the Sange artists. The top right front edge is damaged, as it appears to have received a bump a few decades ago, there is also some very minor damage to the right leg, however the structure is still sound enough for normal use.

This altar comes with a Certificate Of Authenticity, brush-signed by the artist, a monk at the upper monastery, a complete iconography, a map of the area with a short history and other interesting background information and pictures.

Age: 1960-70
Dimensions (overall)    H=20" W=21" D=14" (inside of doors) H=12" W=18" D=11" (drawer) H=3" D=12" W=8"  (all measurements + or - .25") 

If you have questions, contact David by email at david@baronet4tibet.com

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item 0310.36 Price $535.00, PLUS SHIPPING~EAST COAST $94.00 ~  MIDWEST $85 ~/MTN STATES $79.00 ~   WEST COAST $72.00; other destinations, contact us  for a quote.       

Iconography

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

Each front door has a Bactrian Camel facing each other, in the background are blue and green rugged rock cliffs, subtle energy, cumulus clouds; the foreground has Cintamani, Chakravartin's Precious blue flaming jewel, along with his Precious Minister's or King's and Queen's earrings. Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan teachers spread into Mongolia and the camel was the surest transport to carry the teachings which were most times revealed in tangkas. Each tangka is a meditational and learning vehicle that whole books could be written about in their iconographic depictions. The rock cliffs which represent the scriptures, "thus I have said" and the theme is one of determined reading and following of the scriptures to bring about the increase of wisdom that moves one toward enlightenment and thus can teach others. The rock cliffs all have Kusha grass growing out of them: 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 rainbow rays coming out of the rock cliffs are subtle energy generated by the practitioner. In Tibet, cumulus clouds are the norm and move quickly across the sky: 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. 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 top jewel in each set of three is blue with flames surrounding it. The flames around the border of the Cintamani are symbolic of the burning away of false desires and ignorance, giving way to enlightenment. Additionally the top blue Cintamani is Chakravartin's Precious 8 faceted jewel. 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. Last on the doors are the King's or Minister's and the Queens earrings. The Queen's are round and the King's/Minister's are squared. 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 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. The Precious King's or Minister'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 his detachment from all things earthly, this applies to the Queen's heavy earrings as well and the Queen's are normally seen on the long lobs of enlightened beings.. Like the Buddha, the King represents a wealth of faith, morality, honesty, modesty, learning, renunciation, and wisdom. The King is also referred to as the Precious minister. His intelligence is razor-sharp, with a great ability for patience and listening.  He desires to do only good works to promote the Dharma, to protect and benefit all beings. The Queen speaks the truth, using no frivolous words and holding no false vices.  

The drawers have scrolling durva grass; the brass coins are covering a 4 petalled flower in the center of the design. Grass, in sanskrit, Durva, is a symbol for long (or Longer) life and is used in life-enriching rituals. grass, being highly resilient, is believed to be immortal and so proclaims the end of samsara, the successive death and rebirth of all beings. The 4-petaled flower is symbolic of the 4 Noble truths, the middle way and the first teaching of Buddha. 1. Life is suffering. 2. Ignorance is the cause of suffering.  3. The cessation of suffering is the goal of life because it transcends pains and pleasure.  4. The way to the cessation of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which aligns with the eight spokes of the Dharma Wheel.

The main panel on the sides have a set of 6 Cintamani wrapped in flames. On the right panel at the bottom there is a golden Trefoil and a red coral offering. On the left door, in place of the trefoil are the Precious General's insignia, another of the Seven Precious possessions of Chakravartin. The trefoil is a cloud design that signifies the 3 Cintamani as the body, speech and mind of Buddha that the practitioner will possess. In back upper corners, the Mahamudra mists are starting to form. 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 top is in a layered presentation that is another hallmark of the Rebgong art and has a great double Dorje in the center. At the front and back of the second layer of the top are the Queen's earrings, on the sides are tangkas rolled up. The Double Dorje is an epiphany, a sudden realization; Dorje (Tibetan) thunderbolt, or double diamond, ("visvavajra" in sanskrit). Its four heads represent the four Dhyani Buddha. Of these, it is associated primarily with Amoghasiddhi, lord of the north, the Karma Family Buddha, whose name means "Unfailing Accomplishment." The double Dorje represents the indestructibility of all phenomenal essence. It serves as a symbol of harmony, immutability, and all -knowingness. The single, uncrossed representation, 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.

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