Small portable chest "Gter-gyi ne' u-le"

850 €

Tibet, Utsang province, 19th century, private collection from Finland.

Tibet, the historic region and autonomous region of China (often called "the roof of the world") is vast country (covering an area in excess of 2,5 million square kilometers), over two thirds the size of India or more than two and half times the size of Austria, Denmark, France and Germany put together. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,380 meters. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Tamang, Qiang, Sherpa, and Lhoba peoples. Surrounded by high snow-capped mountain ranges and dotted with numerous lakes, Tibet is also the source of many great rivers, the Bharmaputra, Indus, Yangtze, Mekong, Yellow, Salween to name a few. Tibet's history begins in 127BC, and it was subsequently ruled by different dynasties. At times, Tibet extended its influence over neighboring countries and peoples and, in other periods, came itself under the influence of powerful foreign rulers, including the Mongol Khans, the Gorkhas of Nepal, the Manchu emperors and the British rulers of India. Until 1949, Tibet was an independent nation in the Himalayas which had little contact with the rest of the world. It existed as a rich cultural storehouse of the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings of Buddhism. Religion was unifying theme among the Tibetans, as was theur own language, literature, art, and world view developed by living at high altitudes, under harsh conditions, in a balance with their enviroment. The Tibet was invaded by Communists China in 1950. On 7 october 1950 thousands of Chinese troops marched into Lhasa. The forcible occupation of Tibet was marked by systematic destruction of monasteries, the supression of religion, denial of political freedom, widespread arrest and imprisonment and massacre of innocent men, women and children. Since that time, over 1,2 million out of 6 Tibetans have been killed, over 6000 monastaries have been destroyed, and thousands of Tibetans have been imprisoned.

Historically, in Tibet, during the 19th century, almost all furniture from the region originated in the monasteries, made by and for the monks. These intricately decorated, hand painted chests and trunks were used as storage in wealthy homes and monasteries. Small portable chests like this were also used as travel trunks for a family on the move. They can be either painted wood or leather covered wood. The box is normally made from cedar, pine or poplar. Perhaps to make up for their quite crude design and construction, trunks and chests would be brightly decorated with distinctive patterns using natural pigments. If they are painted it is usually just the front and two sides.

This piece is an excellent example of the high quality Tibetan painting techniques and features a mongooses spitting colored jewels. Both sides with the intricate Snow Lions designs and the Three Precious Jewels symbols. The mongoose (Sanskrit nakula, Tib. ne'u-le) or "treasure mongoose" (Tib. gter-gyi ne' u-le), which disgorges a shower of jewels from its open mouth, is a main left-handed attribute of wealth deities, such as Jambahala, Vaishravana, or Kubera. As a traditional enemy of Nagas and snakes (both are treasure guardians), the mongoose is usually seen spitting out colored jewels of wisdom or Cintamani. The Snow Lion (Tib. gnyan/gangs seng ge) is the national emblem of Tibet. It resides in the eastern Himalayas and represents unconditional cheerfulness, a mind freed from doubt, clear and precise. The body of the Snow Lion is pure white while its flowing mane, beard, tail, and foot fluffs is either blue or green. The Three Jewels or triple gem (Sanskrit triratna, Tib. dkon-mchog gsum) are The Buddha, the fully enlightened one (the yellow jewel), The Dharma, the teachings expounded by the Buddha (the blue jewel), and the Sangha, the monastic order of Buddhism that practise Dharmas (the red jewel).

Extraordinary sloped shape, with scallop edged lid. Leather covered wood. Reinforced with decorative brass metal work along the edges and the original clasp. The interior is unfinished. Excellent condition. Deep dark patina. A layer of varnish on the paint surface. Age-related wear, dirt and dust. Size approx. 27,5cm x 38,5cm x 22,0cm.