In the beginning Buddha statues were not incorporated into Buddhism. Instead of reverencing images of Buddha himself, adherents used other images to symbolize the great Buddha. Over the centuries the image of Buddha has become the most popular symbol of Buddhism, but the ancient symbols remain in use, and they are of great importance. Through the ages, the ancient symbols have gained layers of meaning from the different cultures touched by the spread of Buddhism. Nowhere are the layers of meaning more evident than within the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhist symbols.
The Tibetan symbols of Buddha are known as the eight auspicious symbols. Today, these symbols can be found in the jewelry handcrafted by Tibetan artisans who remain in exile from their homeland. In addition, colors used in making jewelry also have symbolic meanings.
Each of the Eight Auspicious Symbols represents one aspect of the teachings of Buddha. Though each symbol holds power individually, when they are grouped together those powers multiply.
Two Golden Fishes: The two golden fishes are usually depicted standing vertically on their tails with their heads curved toward each other . They represent the two great rivers of India, the Ganga and Yamuna. In Buddhism these two fish represent happiness because they have complete freedom in the water. They also represent fertility and abundance because fish tend to reproduce so rapidly. Also, the two fish together represent unity and fidelity in marriage.
Parasol: The parasol is said to cast a shadow of protection. Just as a parasol casts a shadow to protect the bearer from the heat of the sun, the symbolic parasol casts a shadow that protects the bearer from the heat of spiritual suffering. In Tibet, the parasol is associated with royalty. It is a symbol of wealth and prestige.
Endless Knot: The endless knot is a series of right angles and intertwined lines with no beginning and no end. This image symbolizes how all things are intertwined, and each will affect the other. When this symbol is stamped on a piece of jewelry being given as a gift, it symbolizes the connection that exists between the giver and the recipient. It can also mean continuity and represent Buddha’s endless wisdom.
The Conch Shell: The conch shell is a symbol of power and authority. The shell is used as a horn in religious ceremonies to frighten away and banish evil spirits. It stands as a symbol of the the teachings of Buddha being spread to the world, like the sound of the horn being blown. Images of the Buddha have three curving lines at his throat that symbolizes his deep and resonant voice sounding forth as a conch shell being blown.
The Treasure Vase: The treasure vase is a pot bellied vase with a short, narrow neck that has been topped with a jewel symbolizing the fact that it contains treasure. This vase is said to have an endless supply of whatever is stored inside. Therefore, symbolizing abundance and wealth.
The Wheel: One of the most important symbols in Buddhism, the wheel comes in three parts, the hub which stands for moral discipline, the spokes which are usually numbered 8 which represent the correct application of wisdom, and the rim which represents concentration which is necessary to hold the art of meditation together, just as the rim holds the wheel together. Over time, the wheel has evolved into a symbol of the teachings of Buddha. When the wheel is turned it symbolizes the rapid spiritual change that occurs when applying the teaching of Buddha in ones personal life.
The Lotus: This symbol is perhaps the most poignant of the eight auspicious symbols. At it grows, the lotus rises out of the mud at the bottom of the pond, passes through the water, and rises above the water to bloom. This beautiful flower shows how the soul can pass from the the primordial mud of materialism through the waters of experience and into the sunshine of enlightenment.
The Victory Banner: This symbol stands for Buddha’s victory over the universe and his subsequent enlightenment.
Color is also a very important symbol in Tibetan Buddhist Jewelry. For example, the color red represents the force of life which can be a warming lifesaver or a raging destroyer. Turquoise stands for the limitless height of the sky or infinity. Wearing turquoise in a ring assures a safe journey while wearing it in the ears protects one against being reincarnated as a donkey. The dark blue of Lapis Lazuli represents that which is pure and healing, and is said to be able to cure those who wear it. Green is located in the center of the color spectrum and so is said to represent balance and harmony. Black is the symbol of darkness or the lack of enlightenment.
We have many different products featuring the eight auspicious signs including this eight auspicious signs white metal bracelet, this eight auspicious signs wall hanging, and this sterling silver eight auspicious signs bracelet.