16th/17th century, wood, mineral pigments. Important as a religious piece for surviving a cultural revolution.
A torgam is a cabinet for storing ritual cakes made by monks as offerings to the deities in ceremonies. The size of this torgam and its auspicious motifs, instead of fierce-looking deities and animals, skulls and animal skin painted on it for monasteries, suggest it was one used in a private home. The rite connected to it would be attended only by a monk although occasionally a family member might be invited to attend.
This torgam has a pair of doors with the overall surface painted red. In the center of each door is a flaming jewel. Around each jewel are painted some of the Eight Auspicious Symbols and the Seven Precious objects. Among them is the Wheels of the Law, the swastika, the pearl, the canopy, the pair of Rhinocerus horn beakers, the dorji, the conch shell, and the eternal knots. Together, these symbols mean protecting the Dharma, the teachings of Buddha. The patina, the primitive locking device, and the rough way it was made, suggest this torgam is a very old piece and a miracle to have survived a cultural revolution. It is rare as Tibet has not allowed any of its antiques, especially religious ones, to leave the country.