Tibetan jewelry is among the most finely crafted in the world today. Tibetan artisans incorporate Buddhist designs in their work. Skilled artisans have utilized the same techniques used for generations to create the most gorgeous silverworks.
Tibetan Jewelry often astounds both by its quality and by its quantity, embodying almost always a ritualistic and symbolic connotation. Although certain sophistication may be lacking to Tibetan jewelry its detailed workmanship is of such delicacy and elegance that comparison with anything else is virtually impossible.
Tibetan art is largely anonymous, and this custom of artistic anonymity is grounded in the Buddhist belief in working towards the elimination of the individual ego. The Tibetan attitude to a work of art is that when it is successfully completed it has an existence of its own and an inherent power to help the viewer come to spiritual realization. It ceases to be the property of the artist when it leaves his studio. It is not at all surprising that from such a place a range of very attractive and almost mystical jewelry should come.
Mostly all of Tibetan jewelry has symbolic meaning with Sanskrit inscriptions or Buddhist symbols imprinted or formed into the metal by a handcrafted process called Repousse. Eight Auspicious Symbols form the most well-known group of Buddhist emblems that are constantly used in Tibetan Jewelry and consist of: a parasol, a pair of golden fish, a treasure vase, a lotus, a white right spiraling conch shell, an endless knot, a banner of victory and a golden wheel. They are eight symbols of great fortune and represent the offerings made by the gods to Shakyamuni Buddha immediately after he attained enlightenment. A Tibetan tradition identifies the Eight Auspicious symbols as forming the body of the Buddha: the parasol representing his head, the golden fish his eyes, the lotus his tongue, the treasure vase his neck, the wheel his feet, the victory banner his body, the conch his speech, and the endless knot his mind. Designs of these eight symbols adorn all manner of sacred and secular Buddhist objects such as carved wooden furniture, embellished metal work in jewelry and sculptures, wall panels, carpets and silk brocades.
Gemstones are also very significant in Tibetan Buddhist jewelry. The seven treasures in Buddhism are specifically Gold, Silver, Lapis Lazuli, Crystal or Quartz, Pearl, Red Coral and Agate. Coral teaches us form, also flow and flexibility within form. Coral symbolizes the energy of life force. Turquoise is revered by the Tibetans and believed to represent good fortune, good health, and that it provides powerful protection against the evil eye. Turquoise is used in Tibetan healing ceremonies, where a turquoise bead is thought to hold the shadow soul and draw out illness from the body. Buddhists associate turquoise with knowledge of the future. Onyx is a luxurious chalcedony quartz with a fine texture and deep black color. It is associated with the first Chakra which is the root Chakra, it is a grounding stone, valuable in difficult or confusing times in our lives.
Colors such as black, blue, red, yellow, white and green have all specific meaning. Animals also play an important role in Buddhist symbology since they are believed to have souls that are no different from human souls. The Bat for example is a symbol of good fortune. As bats were supposed to live 1000 years, their image was also used as a symbol of longevity. A design of 5 bats, called Obok (5 blessings), represents the five fortunes: longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue, and natural death. The dragon is a creature of great creative power; a positive icon, representing the strong male yang principle of heaven, change, energy, wealth and creativity. The pearls, or jewels clutched in the claws of the dragon represent wisdom and health. The phoenix is also a symbol of the sun, mystical rebirth, resurrection and immortality. It symbolizes freedom from hopes and fears, the vast mind without reference point.
Whether you are a collector or just looking for the perfect statement piece, you’re bound to appreciate the beauty and history of Tibetan jewelry.