Eight Sacred Emblems of Buddhism in Tibet

Updated: 2007-04-28 09:00

In Tibet, there are symbols on the walls of almost every temple, shrine and monastery, and on many private houses. The most common decorative motifs are the Eight Sacred Emblems of Buddhism.

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Conch Shell (dun): used in Buddhist worship as a trumpet or offertory vessel and symbolizing the spoken word of Buddha.

Vase (bum-pa): used as the storage urn of a sacred receptacle and symbolizing hidden treasures.

Umbrella (gdugs): a token of loyalty and symbolizing the protection of the Dharma (faith).

Endless Knot (apal-be): an auspicious geometric diagram symbolizing devotion.

Dharma Wheel (chakra): symbolizing the unity of all things and Sakyamuni himself.

Golden Fish (gser-na): symbolizing spiritual liberation. As water allows fish to swim freely, so Buddhist belief emancipates the soul.

Lotus flower (padma): symbolizing purity. As the flower rises from muddy roots, so Nirvana arises from this shabby world.

Banner of Victory (dpal-be): a unique Buddhist object, with the cylindrical layered banner symbolizing victory over ignorance and death.