Octagonal Box with Buddhist Symbols and Mantra
MediumBurlwood, lapis lazuli, turquoise and coral
DimensionsWork : 3 1/2 x 14 x 13 3/4 in. (8.89 x 35.56 x 34.92 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
This box may have been made for presentation to a high-ranking Mongolian Buddhist lama. The interior of the box is divided into small trays that could have contained offerings of nuts, candied fruits, hard cheeses and other tasty foods. The exterior sides of the box are decorated with eight auspicious Buddhist symbols: a conch shell, a parasol, a treasure vase, a dharma wheel, a victory banner, a lotus blossom, a pair of fish and an endless knot. The top of the box is decorated with a stylized lotus blossom and a mantra, or sacred incantation, written in Tibetan lantsa script. The materials and decoration of this box resemble those found on a pair of Mongolian covered jars in the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan art that were used in annual prosperity rituals. It is possible that this box, too, could have been used in prosperity rituals.