Turquoise – Sacred Tibetan Buddhist Ritual Stone

Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Vajrayana, is commonly referred to as Tantric Buddhism. Within Tibetan Buddhist culture, turquoise is considered a sacred gemstone that holds great significance. It is always available, omnipresent, and omnipotent. It is deeply associated with divination and serves as a symbol of Buddhism that helps to break the illusion and navigate the maze of life. It has the power to warn and provide steadfastness.

Turquoise is the most sacred totem worship of Tibetan Buddhism. More than 80% of Buddhist statues and magic weapons in Tibet feature turquoise figures and Tibetans who practice Tibetan Buddhism also consider turquoise to be an incarnation of the gods, symbolizing divine power. Possessing it is believed to bring good luck and fortune.

Turquoise is one of the seven treasures of Tibetan Buddhism, which contain the light and wisdom of the Buddhist pure land. These treasures are spiritual objects in jewellery that hold profound meanings and are considered sacred by Buddhist believers. As a sacred object, turquoise serves to protect the soul, exorcise evil spirits, and eliminate disasters. Turquoise has had a deep connection with Buddhism since ancient times and holds a special place in Tibetan culture, which is reflected in every aspect of Tibetan life.

Most Tibetans possess various styles of turquoise, from everyday jewellery to Buddha beads. Turquoise can be found in hanging and chains, milk bucket hooks, apron hooks, chest ornaments, back accessories, hair accessories, and more.

Tibetan Buddhism is also influenced by turquoise, which can be seen in the monasteries and statues of Tibetan Buddhism. This highlights the inseparable relationship between Buddhism and turquoise. As a result, Tibetans are the people that wear the most turquoise, and it remains a prominent feature of our cultural heritage. In some Tibetan customs, turquoise figures are still present. For instance, during a daughter’s wedding, a turquoise necklace symbolizing the soul is given to her, and some married Tibetan women wear turquoise beads on their heads to bless their husbands with a long and healthy life. Overall, a representation of the soul and beauty of Tibetan turquoise, making it an important cultural feature of Tibetan Buddhism.

Gabala Bowl (Sacred Skull Bowl)

The renowned Gabala bowl in Tibetan tradition has been imbued with sacred energy. It is a bowl-shaped receptacle crafted from the craniums of the Fuhui Shuangxiu monks, also known as “Luqi,” which originated from the celestial burial rite of Bon. Tibetan monks frequently consume the ambrosia contained in the Gabala bowl after attaining enlightenment, which symbolizes purifying the sins of the body, mind, and spirit. The Gabala bowl is a mystical instrument utilized in the supreme yoga enlightenment ceremony.

Turquoise-inlaid Golden Buddha Vessel

The Turquoise-inlaid Golden Buddha Vessel is a highly customary offering in Tibetan Buddhism. The gold and bronze vessels are adorned with turquoise. During the esoteric ceremony, this type of vessel is often venerated in front of the grand Buddha and the Buddha’s altar. The vessel is embellished with auspicious herbs or peacocks, and grains are placed in the cup below as an essential magical object in the offering and retaining ceremony.

Golden Cover Conch

A Conch is a tool utilized in the tantric ritual of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a vessel used for statues or devotees themselves and also serves as a living instrument for monks. The vessel is filled with holy water (i.e., water soaked in saffron), or holy water is sprinkled or injected in small amounts into the hands of devotees to pray for the protection of the Buddhas. Bathing vessels are made of gold, silver, copper, porcelain, and other materials. The vessel’s ring foot, bottle cap, and curved long spout are all crafted from pure gold, and the vessel’s body is made of silver. The lid is ornamented with eight treasures and auspicious herbs patterns, inlaid with turquoise, red coral, and other precious stones. The long spout near the vessel is shaped like a dragon’s head. The vessel is lightweight and decorated with brocade. The vessel’s craftsmanship is exquisite, making it a work of art.

Turquoise-inlaid Gold Teapot

This teapot is cast in pure gold and comprises two parts: the lid and the pot’s body. It is adorned with broad patterns and inlaid with turquoise. The overall shape is solid and stable, and the inlay technique is exquisite, accentuating its opulence and grandeur. It is a treasure of the Tibetan Museum.

Copper Gilded Mandala

The copper-gilded altar city, adorned with pine stone and coral, was transported by Dalai Lama V, the spiritual leader of Tibet, from Tibet to Beijing in 1652 for the Xihuang Temple. This precious artefact passed through the Zijin City Yangxin Hall before finding its way to the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The altar city has a diameter of 38.6 cm and stands 27.4 cm tall. The Shengzhuangtan City leather box, made by Seiko during the Qianlong period, holds the altar city. The lid of the box is adorned with white silk and bears an inscription detailing the historic event of the five Dalai Lamas’ visit to Beijing to offer their services at the Xihuang Temple during the reign of the emperor. The emperor was so impressed that he requested the altar city be offered to the inner court.

This altar city holds a significant role in the religious and political relations of the Qing Dynasty. It not only represents the spread of Tibetan Buddhism in the Central Plains, acknowledged by the imperial court but also signifies the bond between the Manchu and Tibetan nations. The Tancheng carries Buddhist scripture, conveying the spiritual significance of Tibetan Buddhism while showcasing the exquisite metal art of Tibet through Buddhist art.

Jade Bowl

The jade bowl, part of the Qing Palace’s old collection, has an open mouth, deep abdomen, closed bottom, and encircling feet. The outer wall of the bowl is light, and the inner mouth bears Tibetan engravings. It is equipped with a 90% gold cover and seat, decorated with three layers of lotus petals, six groups of grass patterns, and pine stone carved flowers. The cushion plate has a hammered grass pattern surface, with pine stone flowers embedded, and rectangular pine stones on the edge. The feet are high, and the outer wall has a hidden scroll of grass pattern, cloud pattern, and Ruyi pattern embedded with trapezoidal, Ruyi-shaped plum blossom-shaped pine stone, and 46 pieces of different-coloured pine stones.

This common Tibetan Buddhist bowl is carved from white jade and combined with a gold cover and seat, making it even more valuable. The cover is adorned with Tibetan spells, while the rest is inlaid with pine stones, exhibiting a strong Tibetan cultural essence.

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