About 18th C, pine or cypress, mineral colors, gilding. Important as not many “tepchogs” survived; in excellent condition.
Small folding tables called “tepchog” are ubiquitous to Tibet as the Tibetans have traditionally been herdsmen, moving from place to place. They normally carry objects in bags made of wool and occasionally various religious items and a small folding table with them. When they stop, they would set up the small table as altar table in their tents for worship, sitting on the floor or cushions. The folding tables were perhaps one of the earliest of Tibetan furniture. Since the Chinese occupation, these small folding tables are rarely in use. Higher tables, along with chairs, make them obsolete. They are now relics and valued collectors items.
This small folding table consists of a solid top and three hinged side panels which allow the table to be picked up and folded flat for carrying or for storage. Generally, the top of a folding table is plain, with the sides usually decorated with carving or painting. A highly decorated folding table like this, with the top and sides highly carved, painted and gilded with brocade designs of the key-fret, trailing flowers and medallions with dragons, was most likely used by highly respected monks from a monastery richly endowed by the citizenry. Monks answered requests to visit homes to give blessings or chase away evil spirits. It was practical for them to carry a small folding table with which they could set up an impromptu altar table to support religious texts while they were being read. They also needed a support for their cup of yak butter tea, a bell and the ‘dorji’ (a thunderbolt religious motif representing the indestructible state of the Buddhist faith), items necessary to them for their task. The folding table could be easily closed up and carried away after use.