Tibetan tables occur in a variety of sizes and shapes and decorative styles.
They are among the earliest forms of Tibetan furniture, but unlike the storage
boxes, they continued to be produced throughout the history of Tibetan
furniture. Some tables had a decidedly religious usage, while many were given
over to governmental purposes or for use in the home. Some tables are painted,
some are carved, and some are of plain varnished wood.
The variety of tables in fact is so great that it is difficult to state where
the designation "table" should leave off and a different designation begin.
Some tables are constructed almost exactly like cabinets with four sides,
shelves, and opening with swinging doors. Only their dimensions make them seem
like tables. Other Tibetan tables more resemble what we would normally call a
"stand". These stand-like tables will have a front, two sides, and a top, but
are without any kind of back. Folding tables by their very nature are without
a back. Some of these backless tables may have a bar or a shelf which holds
the sides rigid, but often there is nothing. Tables like these were commonly
used in monasteries. Monks sit on cushions behind these tables, and a back
would only have hampered access. The monk sits behind the open back and can
keep accessories hidden behind the table or on its top surface. Another
stand-like table may have four sides, but upon turning it over, one sees that
there is no bottom shelf and no access to the inside except by having turned it
Then there are tables with drawers. These invariably have four sides. Many of
the hardwood tables are equipped with drawers which run the length of the
table. Some painted tables are of this same construction as well.
Another style of table has carved legs of various designs. Some resemble
Western cabriole style legs, some resemble Chinese tables, and there are any
number of hybrid forms as well.
Finally, we want to say that all the tables presented here represent genuine
untouched Tibetan artifacts. There are no repainted pieces in this collection.
Read our section on
Tibetan antiques if you need to learn more.