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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C500.08 Reading desk or Altar Table

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Tibetan Furniture Buddhist Altar table
Tibetan Furniture Buddhist Altar table
Tibetan Furniture Buddhist Altar table
front view
left side

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Exceptional art work on this reading desk. The design elements of this desk were used as the inspiration for most of the other 20th century desks and the art work is masterful. The Tibetan monastic furniture and art is usually done by a workshop group of a master and his students, this piece appears to have been done by only the most advanced in the group and used as the model for all those that followed. The front and side supports are not done in the usual kyungbur, the apron is done in the kyungbur. The colors are brilliant. The top has a 5 clawed summer dragon, the front support has an offering bowl filled with Cintamani. The sides have a most unique Zipak. This is a portable altar table and is also used as a reading desk. It was used by a high lama to read and teach the Tibetan Buddhist scriptures. The end supports pivot underneath the table top (the entire end boad/support) and then the front support (the entire board with the offering bowl, cintamani etc.) pivots over the top of the two end supports into a cavity that is under the top. We have just a handful of these old portable altars/reading desks. The gold work is 24kt gold. The back is open to allow room for the reader's crossed legs to fit underneath so the reader does not have to bend forward and strain the back. Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity brush signed by a monk at the Sange monastery.

Age: approx 1900
Dimensions (overall)    H=12" W=30.4" D=13.5"  (all measurements + or - .25") 


item #C500.08 Price $1485.00, plus shipping: ~EAST COAST $74.00 ~MIDWEST $65.00 ~MTN STATES $59.00 ~WEST COAST $52.00; other destinations, contact us  for a quote.     


The top has a most Auspicious 5-clawed summer dragon. Unlike its demonic European counterpart, the Tibetan dragon 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.

The ends have Zeeba or Zipak (Tibetan) The Zipak originates in a Shaivite legend from the Shandha Purana.  Shiva created a demon called Jalandhara from the blaze of his third eye.  Jalandhara assumed great power and desired an incestuous relationship with Parvati, the consort of Shiva and Jalandhara's adoptive mother.  Jalandhara persuaded Rahu, one of his demonic friends, to demand Parvati's favor.  When Shiva got wind of this, he was understandably outraged, so his third eye blazed again, thereby creating the Zeeba, who made a beeline to devour Rahu.  Rahu decided that Zeeba was going to eat him bones and all and begged Shiva for mercy; whereupon, Shiva offered forgiveness and called off Zeeba.  Because Zeeba had not had anything to eat since coming into the world and had been deprived of his only prey, he turned on himself and devoured his own body until only the head and hands remained.  Shiva was very pleased with his handiwork and invited Zeeba to remain as the guardian to his door.   Since then, he has become a reminder of the consequences of gluttony and greed and also stands as a guardian of practitioners.  Zeeba's fingers point to his missing body to show what can happen when someone is overcome by avarice.

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