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4. A Tibetan Gau (portable shrine)
Derge
19th Century
Height: 6 1/3" (16.3 cm)

A Tibetan Gau (portable shrine)

The gau is usually kept on an altar in the home, but when travelling it is fastened to the traveller's crossbelt by means of pairs of lugs on either side through which a carrying ribbon is passed. With it's front of beaten and repousse silver worked to resemble scrolling flowering vine into which are set the eight auspicious symbols (astamangala), the back of copper is left plain as it is covered by the cloth carrying case, which leaves the front with it's arched opening displaying the owner's personal deity. Below the window is the kirrtimukha (face of glory) which hovers above a central Mt Meru flanked by waves in the lower edge of the gau. The contents of this gau appear to be medicinal,with various pills and powders within - thus, the Buddha of Long Life is invoked. A small number in red paint indicates that this gau formed part of a collection, possibly a museum.



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