This set of Ashtamangala features cloisonne which is a traditional Chinese painting technique. Our set of eight red Tibetan auspicious symbols displays the symbol in a circle that sits atop of a bell.
In Sanskrit Ashtamangala translates as Ashta which means eight and mangala which means auspicious. The interpretations of what the eight individual symbols stand for are complex and can present different teachings which are based on different perspectives. However, it is clear that they represent Buddhist virtues and also symbolize important aspects of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Eight Cloisonne Red Tibetan Auspicious Symbols
Right Coiled White Conch Shell
There are both right and left coiled conch shells. However, the right coiled variety are very rare and are considered to be much more auspicious. The reason is that the right coil is emblematic of the orbits of the planets and the stars which move to the right. As a result, it has come to symbolize the nature of the Buddha’s Dharma teachings. Additionally, the right turning conch produces melodious sound that can carry for great distances. Therefore, when disciples hear the teachings they are encouraged to overcome ignorance.
The Lotus Flower
Lotus flowers are indeed very symbolic in Buddhism. As a result, practically every Buddha statue is sculpted with a lotus flower embedded in it. For example, all of the Buddhas or bodhisattvas are seated on a lotus pedestal, are holding the lotus or have them growing over their shoulders.
Additionally, there are four primary colors of lotus flowers – white, pink, red and blue. The pink lotus is held in highest regard and is therefore usually associated with Shakyamuni. In Buddha statues and also Ashtamangala the symbolic meaning of the lotus flower is the same, but they are displayed differently. All Buddhist art venerates the lotus flower. This auspicious symbol represents the ability of the sentient life to rise free out of the mud and filth of the pond (defilements) and become purified.
Golden Dharma Wheel
Gautama Buddha set the “Dharma Wheel” in motion during his first sermon after he achieved enlightenment. The golden Dharma wheel is depicted with eight spokes that symbolizes the Eightfold Path to liberation. The hub of the wheel represents the axis of the world and the outer rim is limitation. Additionally, the Golden Dharma wheel is the basis of a common mudra used in Shakyamuni Buddha statues. The mudra is known as Dharmachakra.
Precious White Umbrella
The umbrella is symbolic in all cultures throughout history because it is reserved for higher social classes. In human society, having a darker complexion is associated with being exposed to the elements. However, those who have an umbrella have a fair complexion since they are protected from the harmful sun and rain. In Buddhism the umbrella is seen as a form of protection from the defilements. As a result of being shielded from the defilements devotees are protected from suffering. The umbrella symbolizes the protection of the Dharma and the rewards for those who follow the Buddha’s teachings.
Auspicious Drawing or Endless Knot
The endless knot is similar in concept with infinity as it is understood in western cultures. However, the auspicious drawing is more specific in that it identifies infinity. Analogies are drawn with the Buddhas wisdom which has no beginning or end. Additionally, everything has a cause and effect which makes everything in the universe interconnected and therefore infinite. The auspicious drawing also represents the ultimate union of compassion and wisdom.
It is presumed that the endless knot originated from an ancient drawing of two nagas that were intertwined to form the symbol that we recognize as infinity (the number 8). It symbolizes unity in the universe which ultimately leads to harmony. Furthermore, the auspicious drawing is ubiquitous in Tibetan Buddhism and is often displayed independently of the eight cloisonne red auspicious symbols.
The Golden Fishes
In pre-Buddhist times 2 fish shown together standing on their tails symbolize the 2 rivers in ancient India – the Ganges and the Yamuna. The two fish were shown together to show the solar and lunar channels that flow together from the nostrils. However, in Buddhism the 2 golden fishes represent the freedom of movement through the ocean of suffering for true devotees. This is because fish swim freely through the water unhindered or held back by the defilements.
Additionally, in China 2 fish are a common wedding gift because they indicate marital unity and fidelity. Indeed, it is common to see two fish swimming together in the water.
Banner of Victory
The victory banner is a symbol from ancient India which is displayed to show victory in battle. However, in Buddhism the meaning still represents victory but the battle is fought from within. Therefore, the banner of victory represents inner triumph over the most insidious defilements attachment, aversion, clinging and desire. It is believed that the Buddha himself planted the victory banner on the peak of Mt Meru to celebrate his enlightenment and show the victory of wisdom over ignorance. Mt Meru is considered to be the center of the universe.
The Treasure Vase
The concept is based in the ancient stories about the pot filled with treasure that never diminishes no matter how much is removed. Symbolically, the kumbha was a traditional clay water pot in ancient India that remained perpetually full. It is often buried or placed in places such as mountain passes, water springs or altars where it is believed that it will attract wealth and harmony. However, in Buddhism it symbolizes the wealth of knowledge that the Buddha possessed. No matter how much he shared with his followers the treasure vase always remained full.