Eight Auspicious Symbols is also known as the “Eight Auspicious Treasures“, in Tibetan they are called “Tashi Taggya.” The Tibetan word “Tashi” means auspicious, while “Taggya” refers to the eight symbols. They are not only the eight auspicious objects symbolizing auspiciousness, perfection, and happiness in Tibetan Buddhism, but also the eight ritual implements worshipped in Tibetan Buddhism.
Eight Auspicious Symbols consist of the precious umbrella (Gdugs), twin fish (Gser Nya), lotus flower (Pad Ma), white conch shell (Dung Dkar), treasure vase (Bum Pa), auspicious knot (Dpal Bevu), victory banner (Rgyal Mtshan), and Dharma wheel (Vkhor Lo).
According to legend, when the Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment and preached the Dharma, the heavenly beings such as Indra and Brahma offered these eight auspicious offerings to honor the Buddha. Many auspicious signs appeared as a result, and these offerings were blessed by the Buddha to become eternal symbols of auspiciousness for sentient beings.
“Eight Auspicious Symbols” is the most common form of Tibetan painting art, seen almost everywhere in Tibet. They can be found on the walls, ceilings, and pillars of monasteries, Tibetan homes, tents of nomads on the grasslands, as well as on Tibetan knives, bowls, wooden furniture, carved metal products, porcelain, wall panels, blankets, and silk fabrics. They are also drawn on the ground with sprinkled flour or colored powder to welcome the arrival of religious dignitaries to the holy Buddhist sites. During religious ceremonies, especially during long-life pujas for the longevity of the spiritual masters, these symbols are often accompanied by prayers and offered as physical or symbolic offerings.
The artistic depictions of these auspicious eight treasures generally follow a similar concept, although there may be slight variations due to different artistic styles of the creators. They appear in the form of murals, gold, silver, and bronze sculptures, wood carvings, or thangkas. There are now also a few sculpted representations in plastic of the eight auspicious symbols, expressing the symbolism of auspiciousness, happiness, and perfection.
These eight auspicious symbols can be depicted individually or in groups of two, four, or eight. When arranged in a group, they are often arranged in the shape of a vase. In the vase arrangement, there is no actual treasure vase, but the other seven objects arranged in the shape of a vase symbolize the wealth represented by the treasure vase.
It is worth mentioning that during the Qing Dynasty, in the reigns of Emperors Shunzhi, Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong, as Tibetan Buddhism became prevalent in the imperial court, many exquisite and precious artworks with elements of the eight auspicious symbols were created.
The widespread use of the Eight Auspicious Symbols represents auspiciousness in every household.
The following below is the images of the Eight Auspicious Symbols
Meaning of Eight Auspicious Symbols
The Tibetan traditionally regards the Eight Auspicious Symbols as representing the eight parts of the body of Shakyamuni Buddha when he attained enlightenment, each with its own symbolic meaning.
- The Golden Fish symbolizes the Buddha’s eyes, signifying the wisdom eyes that accurately perceive the illusory world. Like fish swimming freely in water, they represent practitioners who transcend the worldly realm, being liberated and free.
- The Conch Shell symbolizes the Buddha’s speech, representing the propagation of the Dharma, the teachings of the Bodhisattva, resonating like the sound of the Buddha, spreading far and wide throughout the great world.
- The Dharma Wheel symbolizes the Buddha’s feet, representing the cutting off of the self-entangling net of worldly afflictions, the subjugation of all external enemies, and the turning of the wheel of the Buddhist teachings, symbolizing the continuous propagation of the Buddhist doctrine in the world.
- The Parasol symbolizes the head of the Buddha, representing the ability to shield oneself and others from the “heat (afflictions)” of all sentient beings. the Parasol is considered a symbol of protection, covering everything, and is also a symbol of the authority of the Buddha’s teachings.
- The Lotus Flower symbolizes the Buddha’s tongue, representing the attainment of the pure nature of a Bodhisattva, untainted by the mud of defilements. It symbolizes enlightenment, the liberation from afflictions, and the attainment of the ultimate goal.
- The Endless Knot symbolizes the Buddha’s mind, representing the profound and immeasurable wisdom of the Buddha’s extraordinary Dharma. It symbolizes the theoretical teachings and scriptures of the Buddha about the universe and the human realm.
- The Treasure Vase symbolizes the Buddha’s neck, representing the Buddha Dharma, which satisfies the various needs of all sentient beings, like the wish-fulfilling tree that endlessly provides, meeting the various demands for the Dharma.
- The Victory Banner symbolizes the Buddha’s body, representing the invincibility and eternal existence of the Buddha’s teachings. It symbolizes the overcoming of afflictions, the attainment of liberation, and the achievement of the ultimate goal of Buddhism.
Eight Auspicious Symbols – Golden Fish
According to Buddhist scriptures, when the Buddha practiced the bodhisattva path, he compassionately sacrificed himself as the Fish King to save hungry and thirsty beings. Therefore, fish are regarded as auspicious symbols of abundance and prosperity.
In addition, fish can freely swim in water, symbolizing the transcendence of the Buddha’s teachings beyond the mundane world. Just like fish swimming in water, practitioners who follow the Buddha’s teachings can effortlessly and freely attain ultimate liberation. Therefore, in Tibetan Buddhism, a pair of fish is often used to symbolize the state of liberation, as well as revival, eternal life, and rebirth.
The twin fish are considered to represent the Buddha’s eyes, as fish eyes can see through muddy water, symbolizing the “wisdom eye.” Furthermore, fish’s eyes are often depicted as open, symbolizing the Buddha’s compassionate care for sentient beings, never abandoning them.
Fish do not close their eyes when sleeping, representing the Buddha’s ceaseless practice and diligent efforts, just like the Buddha’s eyes constantly watching over sentient beings without fatigue.
The twin fish swimming freely in water symbolize happiness and autonomy.
The male and female fish are usually depicted symmetrically, often portrayed with their noses touching, resembling carp. Their tails, gills, and fins are elegant, and long whiskers extend from their upper jaws.
The twin fish are symbols of the great Indian achiever Tilopa, representing how he liberated sentient beings from the suffering of samsara through his consciousness and abilities.
Eight Auspicious Symbols – Conch Shell
Also known as the Dharma Conch, is a symbol in Buddhism.
According to legend, the conch shell was originally used as an important tool during meditation in the mountains to ward off wild animals. Its auspicious sound can dispel evil spirits, protect against natural disasters, and frighten away harmful beings.
Later, it became associated with the ancient Indian war god as a war horn and a military instrument on ancient battlefields. Its powerful sound would resonate across the land, symbolizing courage and victory in battle.
With the spread of Buddhism, the conch shell gradually evolved into a musical instrument played during Buddhist ceremonies to propagate the teachings of Buddhism. According to Buddhist scriptures, when Shakyamuni Buddha preached, his voice was as loud as the sound of a great conch shell, resonating in all directions. Therefore, the conch shell represents the sound of the Dharma and is also known as the “auspicious sound.”
Conch shells are usually smooth, white, and lustrous, with some being intricately carved with patterns and designs. Additionally, conch shells can be either left-handed or right-handed, depending on the natural spiral pattern on their shells. A conch shell with a right-handed spiral, which is extremely rare, is called a “divine conch” and is highly revered in Tibetan Buddhism, symbolizing the rarity and excellence of the true Dharma.
White conch shells are usually painted vertically and often have a silk ribbon attached to their lower part. The curve of the mouth and the direction of the spiral indicate that the conch shell is right-handed. Conch shells can be placed horizontally and used as containers for holding nectar or spices. As a handheld object, it symbolizes the proclamation of the Buddha’s teachings, known as the “Buddha’s speech.” The “wisdom” of the deities is often depicted holding a conch shell in their left hand.
In Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, conch shells are used in two forms: decorative and instrumental. The decorative conch shells are usually enshrined in the main hall, placed on a heap of barley. The instrumental conch shells are used as musical instruments and blown by the attendant monks during various Buddhist rituals. These conch shells are often adorned with gold and silver, and they have additional decorations and a mouthpiece. One of the most famous types is the conch shell with wings. Additionally, smaller conch shells are also used to store sacred items inside Buddha statues or stupas.
The resounding sound of the White Conch Shell makes it a significant ritual instrument in monasteries, still in use today to gather the assembly of monks. This is especially true in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, where the monastic dwellings are scattered far and wide. The conch shell’s sound can be heard for miles and is also used during regular Dharma assemblies.
Eight Auspicious Symbols – Dharma Wheel
Also known as the “Wheel of Truth” or “Brahma Wheel”, the wheel symbolizes movement, continuity, and change. It originated as a symbol of the sun in the early Indian civilization of the Indus Valley, appearing on clay seals unearthed from the Harappa archaeological site. It represents the eternal rotation and dissemination of the Dharma, signifying that the teachings of Buddhism do not remain confined to a particular person or place but spread everywhere. The phrase “the wheel of Dharma constantly turns” embodies this idea.
Originally, it was a weapon in ancient India. According to legend, when the Buddha was preaching in the Sarnath, the gods, including Brahma, offered him a “wheel,” which connected the “wheel” with the “Dharma.” It was later used as a ritual implement in Buddhism.
According to Indian mythology, the Buddha’s teachings are likened to the turning of the Wheel of Dharma, just as a righteous king subdues the demons with the Wheel of Dharma when ruling the world. The Dharma Wheel can destroy the evils of sentient beings and bring salvation to all beings. Therefore, it is called the “Dharma Wheel”, symbolizing the “teachings of the Buddha.” The act of the Buddha teaching the Dharma is called “turning the Dharma Wheel,” and the scripture in which the Buddha first taught the Dharma is called the “First Turning of the Dharma Wheel.” In the Mahāvibhāṣā Śāstra, it is explained that the term “Dharma Wheel” means: “Question: Why is it called the Dharma Wheel? Answer: This wheel is made of Dharma, and Dharma is its essence, so it is called the Dharma Wheel. Just as a worldly wheel is made of gold, and gold is its essence, it is called the gold wheel. It is the same with this wheel.
Some say that this Dharma wheel can control the non-Dharma Wheel, so it is called the Dharma Wheel. The non-Dharma Wheel refers to the eight wrong views turned by the six teachers. Question: Why is it called a wheel? What is the meaning of ‘wheel’? Answer: The meaning of ‘wheel’ is the meaning of continuous movement. It is the meaning of leaving one place and going to another. It is the meaning of subduing enemies. Because of these meanings, it is called a wheel.” It also states: “Because it is extremely silent, it is free from disasters. Because it is free from guilt, it is not harmed. Therefore, it is called ‘Brahma.’ Question: Why is it called the Brahma Wheel? Answer: Because the Brahma realm is the first place where one can attain the complete holy path, it is called the Brahma Wheel. It is called the Brahma Wheel because it turns at the request of the Brahma King. Some say that the Buddha is the Great Brahma, and the teachings proclaimed by the Buddha are distinguished and revealed. Therefore, it is called the Brahma Wheel.”
Three meanings of the term “wheel”
- The meaning of carrying: The Dharma, like a vehicle, can carry sentient beings across the turbulent stream of afflictions and lead them directly to the other shore of nirvana.
- The meaning of crushing: The wisdom of the Dharma can crush the ignorance and afflictions of sentient beings, enabling them to transcend the ordinary and achieve the realization of the ultimate goal, just as the wheel treasure of the turning wheel king can subdue all directions.
- The meaning of perfection: Because the teachings of the Buddha are complete and flawless, the wheel is used as a metaphor for perfection.
On the Nature of the Dharma Wheel
Different Buddhist schools have different interpretations of the Dharma Wheel. The Sarvāstivāda, Mahāsāṃghika, and Abhidharmakosa schools, among others, consider the “Noble Eightfold Path” as the essence of the Dharma Wheel. On the other hand, the Mahāsaṃghika, Dharmaguptaka, and Yogācāra schools, among others, consider the “Buddha’s words” as the essence of the Dharma Wheel. Detailed explanations can be found in various Buddhist texts such as the Mahāvibhāṣā Śāstra – volume 182, Abhidharmakosabhāṣya – volume 24, and Mahāyāna-sūtrālaṃkāra – volume 1.
The Huayan Sutra Explained, Volume 3 states: “Based on the depth of the teachings of the five vehicles, the nature of the Dharma Wheel differs. The Hinayana teachings consider the “Noble Eightfold Path” as the essence of the Dharma Wheel. The Initial Teachings consider the “Non-discriminating Wisdom” as the essence of the Dharma Wheel. The Final Teachings consider the “Ultimate Truth” as the essence of the Dharma Wheel. The Sudden Teachings consider “the cessation of conceptualization” and “the extinction of thoughts” as the essence of the Dharma Wheel. The Perfect Teachings consider “the boundless Dharma gates” as the essence of the Dharma Wheel.”
In addition, when the term “Dharma Wheel” is used in the context of classifying teachings, there are also terms like “Three Dharma Wheels” and “Three Turning Dharma Wheels.”
The Dharma Wheel also represents the Buddha’s hands and feet. The Buddha’s hands and feet are depicted with a thousand-spoke wheel, symbolizing the continuous turning of the Dharma Wheel to benefit sentient beings. The number of spokes in the wheel represents the various practices taught by the Buddha: four spokes represent the Four Noble Truths, six spokes represent the Six Paramitas, eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path, twelve spokes represent the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination, etc. If there are no spokes in the wheel, it symbolizes the pure and perfect wisdom of the Great Mirror Wisdom. The Mahāprajñāpāramitopadeśa states: “When the Buddha turns the Dharma Wheel, there are no obstacles or hindrances in the heavens and among humans… When encountering the Dharma Wheel of the Buddha, all afflictions and poisons are extinguished.” If one can respectfully uphold the Dharma represented by the Dharma Wheel, they will attain eloquence without obstacles, cultivate wisdom, have a clear mind, and attain great freedom.
The auspicious Dharma Wheel is depicted as being made of pure gold, with the gold sourced from the Tsanpu River in the Southern Continent (Jambudvipa). Traditionally, the auspicious wheel is depicted with eight spokes in the shape of vajras, symbolizing the “Noble Eightfold Path” taught by the Buddha and the spreading of these teachings in all directions. The central hub of the wheel has three or four rotating “joyous wheels,” rotating in the same direction as the Yin-Yang symbol in Chinese culture. If there are three joyous wheels, they represent the victory of the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) and the triumph over the three poisons of ignorance, attachment, and aversion. If there are four joyous wheels, their colors usually correspond to the four cardinal directions and the four elements, symbolizing the Buddha’s teachings based on the Four Noble Truths. The wheel itself can be depicted as a simple circle, often adorned with small golden ornaments facing the eight directions. Sometimes, the wheel is depicted within an elaborately decorated pear-shaped frame, which is made of gold and adorned with jewels. A silk ribbon hangs behind the wheel, and the bottom of the wheel is usually inserted into a small lotus pedestal.
Shape and Usage of the Dharma Wheel
There are mainly two shapes of the Dharma Wheel. One is embedded in a peach-shaped carved flower, with a lotus pedestal underneath. The other is undecorated and is widely used in various books, Dharma instruments, and buildings for decorative purposes.
In addition, the Dharma wheel can also be used independently. Buddhist temples often install copper-gilded Dharma wheels on the roofs, with a golden deer lying on each side with its neck extended. This is known as the famous “Auspicious Deer Dharma Wheel,” symbolizing Shakyamuni turning the Dharma wheel for the first time in the Sarnath and giving his first sermon, also known as the “Two Deer Listening to the Dharma.”
Note: In ancient India, people revered Brahma, so it was called the Brahma Wheel. However, some say that the Dharma Wheel and the Brahma Wheel are different. The Brahma Wheel represents the meditation path of the four immeasurable minds of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, as well as the four meditation practices of the Holy Path. The Dharma Wheel represents the wisdom path of the Four Noble Truths of suffering, origin, cessation, and path, as well as the wisdom path of cultivating the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment.
Eight Auspicious Symbols – The Parasol
Also known as “Treasure Umbrella” or the “Jewel Canopy“, it is placed on top of the Buddha’s head, providing shelter from wind and sun. It is regarded as to protecting sentient beings.
The Treasure Umbrella originated in India and was once a symbol of ancient Indian nobility and royalty. Kings could use thirteen treasure umbrellas, and early Indian Buddhists saw this number as a symbol of the Buddha’s authority as the embodiment of the Wheel-Turning King.
The Treasure Umbrella was also used as a ceremonial instrument for ancient Indian royal members and nobles during their travels. When they traveled, the umbrella shielded them from the sun, and the shade underneath protected them from the scorching tropical sunlight. It symbolized avoiding desire, obstacles, diseases, and evil forces and later evolved into a ceremonial instrument, symbolizing supreme authority.
The Treasure Umbrella was later adopted by Buddhism to symbolize shielding against demonic obstacles, protecting the Dharma, and eliminating the five poisons of greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. It represents the concept of “flexibility and protection for all sentient beings.” This umbrella later became the exclusive tool of the Living Buddha.
A typical Buddhist Treasure Umbrella has a long handle or shaft made of white or red sandalwood. The handle is adorned with a small golden lotus flower, a treasure vase, and a jewel ornament.
White or yellow silk is stretched over the round-shaped umbrella frame. The umbrella ribs are adorned with a multi-pleated curtain decoration, with various silk ornaments and drapes hanging from it.
At the junction of the round canopy, there is a decorative gold axis with a fancy Capricorn tail, usually adorned with silk curtains, or decorated with peacock feathers, jewel chains, and yak tails.
The round canopy of the Treasure Umbrella represents wisdom, while the hanging silk drapes symbolize various compassionate methods or skillful means.
The offering of a white umbrella to the Buddha primarily symbolizes his protection of all sentient beings from temptations and overcoming fear.
Eight Auspicious Symbols – The Lotus
The lotus flower (Padma), also known as the lotus, is a symbol of purity. It grows in muddy water but remains clean and untainted, representing the inherent purity of all beings. The fragrance of the lotus flower spreads far and wide, often used to symbolize the compassion and virtuous actions of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. It also symbolizes the Buddha’s emergence in a defiled world, like a lotus rising from the mud, pure and dignified. The “Lotus Sutra” and the “Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Dharma” are named after this flower.
True purity does not lie in the physical body, but in the mind – the “lotus flower”, which is what the Buddha described as something that remains untainted in a world full of impurities. It symbolizes transcendence and being uncontaminated. In Buddhism, the lotus flower is often used as a metaphor for purity and being untainted.
The lotus flower that rises from the mud without being stained represents purity and liberation. It represents the peak stage of all activities, which are carried out to completely avoid the mistakes of falling into the cycle of rebirth. The lotus throne on which deities sit or stand symbolizes their divine origin.
In Buddhist scriptures, there are said to be five types of lotus flowers, each with a different color, with the white lotus flower being the most noble. Because the lotus flower has the quality of emerging from the mud without being stained, it is used to symbolize the noble purity of the Dharma. The fragrance of the lotus flower is also used to symbolize the abandonment of unwholesome actions and false speech. The lotus flower depicted in the Eight Auspicious Symbols, whether in paintings or sculptures, is significantly different from the actual lotus flowers in nature and other depictions.
In Buddhist scriptures, the lotus flower is often used as a metaphor for the Dharma. For example, the kasaya robe is also known as the lotus robe, symbolizing purity and tranquility. The lotus throne on which Buddhas and Bodhisattvas sit is also a symbol of the noble and pure Dharma.
There is a legend that after the Buddha was born, ten thousand rays of light shone from his tongue, each turning into a thousand golden lotus flowers, on each of which the Buddha sat cross-legged and preached the Six Paramitas. This is why the lotus flower is a special feature in Buddhist statues. The lotus flower also symbolizes the Pure Land in Buddhism. It is a symbol of the Buddha’s tongue, emerging from the mud without being stained, and representing purity and holiness. In Tibetan Buddhism, the lotus flower is generally considered to symbolize the ultimate goal of achieving enlightenment.
In Buddhism, the lotus flower is described as having four, eight, sixteen, twenty-four, thirty-two, sixty-four, one hundred, or one thousand petals. These numbers symbolically correspond to the inexplicable number of lotus flowers in the human body and the various components of a mandala. As a handheld object, the lotus flower is usually pink or light red, with eight or sixteen petals. Blooming lotus flowers can also be white, yellow, golden, blue, or black. The white lotus flower is a symbol of the Sikhin, while the White Tara holds a sixteen-petal white lotus flower. Yellow and golden lotus flowers are generally referred to as “Padma – lotus flowers,” while red or pink lotus flowers are more common. The Sanskrit word “utpala” specifically refers to the blue or black “night lotus flower,” but the Tibetan equivalent “ut-pa-la” can be used for lotus flowers of any color.
Eight Auspicious Symbols – Endless Knot
also known as “The Auspicious Knot“
The Auspicious Knot is also known as the “Endless Knot” or the “Knot of Longevity,”
The Auspicious Knot is interpreted as a symbol of eternity and immortality, representing the manifestation of gods and Buddhas in long-lasting and natural forms.
Origin of Endless Knot
The Auspicious Knot is a twisted shape formed by two interlaced “swastika” symbols, without a clear beginning or end, commonly referred to as the “endless swastika.”
In Tibetan Buddhism, it is used to symbolize the wisdom of the Dharma, interconnectedness, the pursuit of unobstructed paths, and the infinite and transparent nature of all things. It symbolizes the infinite wisdom and compassion of the Buddha. As a symbol of Buddhist teachings, it represents the continuity of the “Twelve Links of Dependent Origination,” emphasizing the reality of samsara and rebirth.
According to legend, the original meaning of the Auspicious Knot symbolized love and devotion. It was originally a decoration worn by shepherds around their waists and gradually evolved into decorations for clothing, ritual objects, and architecture.
The Sanskrit term “shrivatsa” means “the beloved possession of Shri.” “Shri” refers to the goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu. The Auspicious Knot is adorned on Vishnu’s chest. The symbol of Lakshmi, “Shri,” on Vishnu’s chest represents his loyalty to his wife. As Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and fortune, the Auspicious Knot naturally became a symbol of good luck. The eighth incarnation of Vishnu, “Black Kali,” also wears the Auspicious Knot in the center of the chest.
In many ancient traditions, the Auspicious Knot, representing eternity, infinity, or mystery, is quite common.
Symbolism of Endless Knot
In Tibetan Buddhism, the Auspicious Knot is also referred to as the net of Damo, representing the teachings of the Bodhisattva Mindfulness Samadhi Sutra. It symbolizes the intention of the Buddha. If one follows the Buddha, the “net of Damo” can retrieve the pearls of wisdom and enlightenment from the ocean of existence.
Some believe that the Auspicious Knot represents the perfection of the five virtues, symbolizing the complete wisdom of the Buddha. The five wisdoms are the wisdom of the nature of the Dharma realm, the great mirror-like wisdom, the wisdom of equality, the wonderful observation wisdom, and the wisdom of accomplishing actions.
Others believe that the Auspicious Knot can fulfill desires and bring wisdom and understanding. It represents the endless auspiciousness and signifies the aspiration for goodness and blessings.
Usage of Endless Knot
Throughout history, the Auspicious Knot has gradually expanded its range of applications and evolved from a religious pattern to a symbol of prayer and blessing in the beliefs of the Tibetan people, appearing in various corners of life. With the arrival of Princess Wencheng, Princess Jin Cheng, and the rise of the “Tea-Horse Trade,” the Auspicious Knot began to spread from Tibet to other regions and underwent another transformation in its usage.
At the same time, with the appointment of Pasiba as the Great Yuan Imperial Preceptor during the Yuan Dynasty, the enthronement of Deshin Shekpa as the Great Karmapa during the Ming Dynasty, and the visit of the Fifth Dalai Lama to Beijing during the Qing Dynasty, the integration of important figures in Tibetan Buddhism with Central Plains culture, the Auspicious Knot also became a symbol of Chinese Han-Tibetan exchange and integration.
The Auspicious Knot began to appear not only as a religious pattern but also as a Tibetan ethnic pattern on various objects such as books, food boxes, water bottles, ink boxes, tripods, teapots, and curtains. The materials used for the Auspicious Knot have also gradually evolved from initially using leather ropes and wool ropes to a variety of materials such as wood, metal, and ceramics.
Evolution of Endless Knot’s Form
Based on existing cultural relics and the usage habits in the Tibetan region, the Auspicious Knot pattern, which has been passed down for thousands of years, has undergone changes in its presentation while maintaining its core meaning of prayer and blessing.
The Auspicious Knot can be presented as a triangular vortex shape or a vertical diamond shape, with four main internal angles adorned with rings.
For example, the Auspicious Knot pattern widely seen on the curtains decorating the Potala Palace, Norbulingka, and Tibetan temples mainly consists of pure right-angled Auspicious Knot shapes.
In the Potala Palace’s collection, 18th-century iron gilt Tibetan-style locks and 17th-century cloisonné skull-shaped offering vessels, as well as 19th-century copper enamel ink bottles, all display pure curved Auspicious Knots, which are closer to the form of knots.
At the same time, besides the transition between right angles and curves, the Auspicious Knot has gradually started to appear in the form of tied ribbons.
The most significant evolution of the Auspicious Knot is its combination with the Auspicious Treasures, becoming one element in auspicious patterns. Over the millennia, although the form and usage of the Auspicious Knot have constantly changed with the passage of time, its core of wishing for auspiciousness and blessing for happiness and fulfillment has remained unchanged.
Eight Auspicious Symbols – Treasure Vase
The Treasure Vase represents the Buddha’s throat, as the Dharma flows out from the Buddha’s mouth. Therefore, the Treasure Vase symbolizes the teachings and doctrines of Buddhism and is also known as the “immortal flower vase.”
The Treasure Vase symbolizes the gathering of millions of nectar-like qualities, encompassing virtuous actions and fulfilling wishes. It serves as both a pure vessel and a ritual instrument used during empowerment ceremonies in Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana practices. Besides being used by Tibetan Buddhist monks in religious activities such as recitation of scriptures or empowerments, it is also used to hold holy water for bathing statues or individuals.
The Treasure Vase is also known as the Vase of Virtue or the Wish-Fulfilling Vase. The vase is filled with nectar, symbolizing the Buddha’s perfect wisdom and the ability to pacify the afflictions of sentient beings, eliminate obstacles, and bring joy and happiness. It also represents the complete and flawless nature of the Buddha’s teachings, with the flow of the Dharma like an ever-flowing stream. It symbolizes the eternal enjoyment of wealth and represents Amitabha Buddha.
In Tibetan Buddhist temples, the Treasure Vase is filled with purified water. The vase is adorned with a peacock feather or a wish-fulfilling tree, symbolizing auspiciousness, purity, and good fortune. It also symbolizes the possession of all treasures without leakage, complete fulfillment of merit and wisdom, and eternal life. Some Treasure Vases are also placed on the rooftops and ridges of monastery buildings for decorative purposes.
The typical Tibetan-style Treasure Vase is painted in exquisite gold, with lotus petal patterns adorning its various parts. A jewel-like ornament or a triratna (the three-jeweled symbol) is placed on top, symbolizing the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
In Buddhist altar offerings, the large Treasure Vase is made of gold and adorned with numerous precious treasures. A piece of silk from the heavenly realm is tied around the neck of the vase, and a wish-fulfilling tree is used as the top ornament. The roots of this tree are immersed in the water of longevity, magically growing various kinds of jewels.
As a symbol of wealth, the Treasure Vase often appears as a vessel at the feet of deities such as the Wealth God, the God of Knowledge, and the Goddess of Prosperity. One of the incarnations of the Goddess of Prosperity stands on a pair of horizontally placed Treasure Vases, continuously emitting jewels. As a divine vase, it has the quality of spontaneous manifestation, as no matter how many jewels are taken out of the vase, it always remains full of jewels.
Eight Auspicious Symbols – Victory Banner
also known as “White Canopy“
The Victory Banner originally referred to a flag or military flag used in ancient Indian warfare, symbolizing victory in the three realms of heaven, earth, and the underworld. It gradually came to be adopted by the Buddhist community, symbolizing the firmness and ability of the Dharma to overcome external paths.
In addition, the Victory Banner represents the body of the Buddha and also symbolizes the Buddha as the great Dharma King, the most honorable one who achieves great victory by using the skillful means of the unobstructed Dharma to eliminate all afflictions and obstacles, enabling sentient beings to purify their karmic obstacles, free themselves from all demonic afflictions, attain ultimate liberation, and awaken to the true fruit of enlightenment.
In Tibetan folklore, the eleven different shapes of Victory Banners represent the power to subdue eleven types of afflictions (namely, precepts, concentration, wisdom, liberation, great compassion, emptiness, no characteristics or aspirations, expedient means, no-self, understanding dependent origination, freedom from bias, and receiving the blessings of the Buddha to achieve self-purification). Different shapes of Victory Banners can often be seen inserted on the roofs of temples. Four-sided Victory Banners are commonly inserted at the four corners of the roof, symbolizing the Buddha’s victory over the four demons.
The most traditional form of the Victory Banner is cylindrical, unlike an umbrella that can be opened and closed. It is inserted on a long wooden pole, with a small white umbrella-shaped top, and a wish-fulfilling jewel ornament in the center of the umbrella top. The round umbrella is supported by elaborately decorated golden-yellow umbrella ribs, with a Makara head at the end of each rib, hanging with yellow or white silk in a wavy shape. The cylindrical Victory Banner is draped with layers of colorful silk curtains with fluttering tassels and adorned with numerous jewels. The bottom is decorated with colorful silk curtains in a wavy shape. The upper half of the cylindrical Victory Banner is adorned with tiger-skin curtains, symbolizing the Buddha’s victory over all “anger” and “aggregates”.
As a handheld symbol, the Victory Banner is an object of many deities, especially those associated with wealth and power, such as the Northern Guardian Deity.
There are two types of Victory Banners: one is made of silk fabric, sewn with nine layers of brocade, with colors in the order of blue, white, red, green, yellow, blue, white, red, and green. The top of the pole is adorned with a precious jewel and a trident, mainly placed in the scripture hall. The other type is made of copper, beaten from copper sheets, some of which are gilded, engraved with mantras, lion heads, and tassels. The top is in the shape of a flame jewel, and the top of the banner is hexagonal or octagonal, with bells hanging from each corner. This type of banner is generally placed on the roof ridge and on both sides of the entrance of a monastery, with the same meaning as the silk fabric banner, representing auspiciousness and victory.