Rare Tibetan Torgam

17th / 18th Century
Pine, mineral pigments
21½” h. 10¼” w. 14½” d.

A torgam is a type of cabinet used to store ritual offering cakes called “torma.” The one here is an extremely rare piece both due to its form and decoration. It has some of the looks of another Tibetan cabinet called “pegam,” which has a scalloped back panel at the top and molded panels at the sides to hold ritual text. This torgam has the scalloped back panel but no side ones and seems to function as a platform for a Buddha statue while the double-doors compartment below is just big enough to hold the torma (cakes) as offerings.

The painting seems to tell some folk stories, maybe of some fortuitous encounters that bodes good fortune-longevity in one panel, as indicated by deer in one panel and cranes in another, the appearance of a dragon to a believer is probably a sign of high status.

This torgam was probably commissioned by a person of rank to be placed in a private chapel dedicated to some guardian deities in his home.