January 31, 2014


A Collection of Altars

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This year's Lunar New Year celebrations and articles reminded me of the of altars and offering bowls I have in the shop. A relatively small collection, these finely-crafted altars have wonderfully detailed carvings and gorgeous patinas and textures. It gives us a glimpse to where these treasured objects have traveled. Each one worn away differently by age and time, they are now all truly one-of-a-kind.

The rarest altar and one of my absolute favorites is the Buddhist Shrine shown above. Almost all Buddhist homes in Burma contain a hpaya-zin, a small shrine placed on the eastern wall of the house. These shrines house an image of the Buddha where members of the household perform their daily devotions. Made of thickly lacquered and gilded wood, this shrine contains a tooled reflective tin interior with “jewels” which are pieces of cut glass. I have two shrines, one which went directly into my personal collection. The other shrine will be available through The Loaded Trunk soon (if you sign up for our email list, I'll let you know when that happens!).

The form of these brass Burmese Ceremonial Bowls follows that of monks' alms begging bowls. The interiors have beautiful patinas that have developed over the last 75 to 150 years. Relief work is hand chased and detailed with scenes from Burmese folklore. It seems likely that these bowls were made to be used on an altar before an image of Buddha. They were meant to hold water and thus flowers and would have stood to either side of the image.

This Buddhist Spirit House is another work of art that that is a unique "only one." A representation of a home or temple, spirit houses are typically found in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma. They are placed in auspicious places in the home and provide shelter to spirits who need to appeased with offerings. I love the symmetry and detailed carvings, a statement piece with so much architectural interest. This currently isn't available in the shop, but please email me if you're interested in more details and pricing.

Sorry, this piece has been sold. No longer available.

Finally, these stone architectural artifacts, recycled from old buildings, were salvaged from the ruins of old houses in India. No two are alike. They are weighty, rustic and fantastic. Lean them in a favorite corner of a book shelf or place one in your garden. Quite large, they're sculptural and unique; their inset nooks make an ideal spot to create an devotional altar of your own. The piece shown above with the blues, greens, and stone and rust tones is no longer available. See the other three right here.

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