About this object

A monk's travelling shrine. The shrine is made from two roughly made wooden frames that are hinged together with a modern steel door hinge. The exterior is painted blue and yellow along the edges, while the interior is painted red. The interior doors hold a variety of moulded clay tsa tsa or votive offering plaques. The left hand door contains seventeen plaques. The large, central plaque is trefoil shaped and contains the three beings of long life (tshe lha rnam gsum), Amitayus (upper middle), Tara (lower left) and Ushnishavijaya (lower right), inbetween the two lower figures there is a chorten or stupa, while on either side of Amitayus is the crescent moon and sun. Surrounding this central plaque are sixteen smaller plaques in a variety of shapes and sizes, including representations of Padmapani, Vajrapani, Padmasambhava, and Amitayus. The right hand door contains nineteen plaques, again there is a trefoil plaque (smaller than on the left) containing Amitayus, Tara and Ushnishavijaya, which is surrounding by eighteen smaller plaques of varying shapes and sizes that include, Padmasambhava, the Historical Buddha, Padmapani, Vajrapani and Amitayus. All of the plaques are covering in a gold paint.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]
  • Date made
    19th Century
  • Materials
    Terracotta Clay; Gilt Metal; Steel; Pigment; Wood
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Purchased from Sotheby's with funds from the V&A Purchase Fund
  • Collector
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place collected
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: London
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    261 mm x 430 mm x 48 mm; 10 1/4 in x 16 15/16 in x 1 7/8 in
  • Note
    Curator's note: Buddhist monks often travel from place to place, so travelling shrines are a compact and practical solution while on the move. This is a well-used, but simply made shrine and there are a series of scuff marks across the box that suggest it was strapped onto the back (of a young follower or servant) when it was being carried. A much larger version can be seen being carried in a photograph by Charles Bell. A more elaborate version can be seen in the British Museum collection (OA 1954.2-22.8), this shrine once belonged to the collector Harry G Beasley. Other examples can be seen in the Museum of Fine Art, Boston.
Object view = Humanities
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