TYPE: Tibetan Buddhist lama’s folding travel altar

CIRCA: 1800’s / 19th C.

A small folding altar table that a Tibetan Lama (a Buddhist ‘priest’) would have taken with him on his travels to use when performing rituals. The design in the wood is intricately hand carved; a flower and trellis work carved into each end while the large front panel is decorated with two peacocks and trellis work, and various symbols adorn the upper narrow panel. The top is plain grained wood that has been coated with lac. (Lac is a natural resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests in parts of Asia. It is an insect that spends its whole life attached to a tree, sucking its sap and converting it into the familiar sticky ‘Lac’ substance that has long been used to provide a glossy protective coating on wood and acts much like a varnish. It is a natural thermoplastic; that is it is a material that is soft and flows when heated but becomes rigid at room temperature.) There are no nails or metal work whatsoever used in its construction, all joins are simply ‘fitted wood’, much like what today we would call ‘dovetailed’, and although quite solid when fully erect it can be easily striped down to all its component parts (five in total) if / when necessary, as the folding ends and front panel imaginatively slot together to make the frame ‘solid’. It is in very good condition, especially for its age, and is the first time for sale on the western market, having been in the one collectors hands since the early 1970’s when he bought it in Kathmandu from a migratory Tibetan.

SIZE UNFOLDED: 78.5CM LONG X 37CM WIDE X 39CM HIGH

TOP SIZE: 78.5CM X 37CM X 2CM

BASE FOLDED: 74CM X 36CM X 8.5CM

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