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Antique Nepalese Buddhist Ceremonial Shrine Painting

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Pre 1900: Item # 1396037
Zentner Collection
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5757 Horton Street
Emeryville, CA 94608

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A long Buddhist religious painting, the top corners with remnants of the fixtures once used for hanging from the ceiling so both paintings are visible. One side of the cloth is painted with hanging human and animal skulls and skins intertwined. Skeletal faces of the Citipati hang amongst the human heads, their skeletal form serving as a reminder of the impermanence of life and eternal change. Below the hanging heads and skins are lingzhi clouds carrying the bodhisattvas with their heavenly attendants and offerings.

The reverse side is painted with sacred Buddhist ritualistic objects, including the kapala skull cup filled with the elixir of life, the endless knot without beginning or end, the pair of golden fish representing conjugal bliss, a parasol offering protection from the elements, the lotus flower of purity and enlightenment, the wheel of dharma, the treasure vase for prosperity, and more important religious symbolism.

Paintings of this subject matter would be kept in a torkham or a hidden shrine in reverence to a particular wrathful deity. The macabre imagery represents the offering of the 5 senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) for the wrathful deity to devour, symbolizing detachment from this mortal body and fearlessness of death.

19th century

Dimensions: 61" L x 11 1/2" H