Lacquer and gilt on wood with metal additions
28 1/16 x 18 1/2 in. (71.3 x 47 cm)
Promised Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving (L.1993.88.1)
This cabinet is strikingly decorated with Esoteric Buddhist imagery fashioned from metal: three skeletons dance down the vertical strips on either side of the doors, two bands of grinning skulls run around the top of the cabinet, and skulls and masks made from different metals alternate on the two horizontal bands that run across the body of the chest. Skeletal imagery, which represents the impermanence of all things, is common in Tibetan Buddhist art and the skulls and bones of important lamas are sometimes used to create potent ritual objects such as cups and trumpets. The front of this cabinet, underneath the metal, is carefully painted with gold floral and geometric patterns on a black background, while the sides have a similar gold pattern on a red background. The cabinet's small size made it easily portable.