Asian Antiques and
The passion for Asian beauty and history is fulfilled in the
art of collecting Asian antiquities, art and antiques. To touch
a statue created from third century BC is a thrill beyond measure.
To see the intricate brushstroke of a master painter of centuries
past. To meditate on the ancient serene features of a stone Buddha
once worshipped by tens of thousands. Antique Zen is about sharing
these delights. Here you will find not only the most beautiful
art and antiques from the orient – but much of the knowledge
of treasured ancestors. We are committed to sharing our expertise
and will continue to add to this collection of articles – and
antiques. We invite you to return monthly.
Antique Zen Antiques From Asia
Antique Zen's collection is well known among collectors. We collect
from around the world, from known collectors, museums and Asian-specialty
auction. Our antiques span the ages, from 3rd century BC or BCE
(Before Common Era) to most centuries of the Common Era (CE,
or AD in classical notations).
We have a special focus on Buddhist antiques (hence the Zen in
Antique Zen), with some very fine Daoist (Taoist) pieces, along
with Hindu Deities. What links our art is a common bond of the
Spirit. We rarely collect antiques without spiritual significance.
The highest forms of art, throughout history, were almost universally
religious in nature, from the Sistine Chapel, to the great Buddhas
found along the famous silk road. Our art and antiques and antiquities
come primarily from:
Please freely navigate our collection of
art, antiques and knowledge using the links below:
Antique Zen specializes in fine antique orientalia. Antique Zen
invests in only the finest, museum quality antiques and art from
around the world, for connoisseurs of Asian antiques. Our mission
is to discover, collect, share and learn about all things ancient
and Asian. We are Buddhist and passionate about oriental art,
Asian antiques, orientalia and Buddhist art and antiques. If you
are here just to learn, please read on and study our FAQ
section. To view and learn about our stunning collection visit
our Showcase, Highlight
Gallery and Antiques and Art.
Always changing, Antique Zen collects and
sells oriental antiques and art on-line from museums, auctions,
private estates and from around the world: China, Japan,
Tibet, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Orient. Ancient artifacts
from as early as 300BC grace our collection. Buddhist art and
antiques include antique carved reliefs and statues, Ming Dynasty
statues, Tibetan bronzes and antique thankas, old Chinese jade
and jewelry and Buddhist art from most periods and cultures. Antique
Zen offers only the finest of Buddhist and Asian orientalia. Antique
Zen's collection of fine oriental antiques and art is always changing.
Our on-line catalogue is updated monthly. For the truly astonishing
and unique see our Showcase. To view
what's "new" in our ancient collection see our Special
Gallery. The Antique Zen orientalia collection usually spans
from 3rd century BC to more recent antiques.
To collect and treasure valuable art
and antiques from Asia is a delight for all the senses.
Your nose pleasures in the musty smell of ancient blackwood
carved out of one log into the stunning beauty of Guan Yin.
Your eyes delight at the vibrant color of unique Yixing
pottery fashioned as a peaceful Bodhisattva. Your fingers
tingle as they run across the intricate gold leaf of a stunning
Lives in Museum Quality Antiquities
In your hands you hold a centuries old wooden sculpture, primitively
carved in a tiny Chinese village temple. It is scorched, blackened
by flames that destroyed the four hundred year old temple. Two
hundred years ago a local merchant donated the money to clothe
the charred relic in pure silver and has his name and purpose
etched on the robes. And the Buddha lives on, in our private collection.
The smell of jasmine wafts across the
south entrance of the temple. You must bend to enter
short, elaborately gilt temple doors force you to bow. As
your eyes adjust to the flame of oil lamps you glimpse the
reassuring images of the 'guardians'
who protect the Holy shrine faces strong, yet beautiful
and peaceful. Light streams in the windows to the west and
east but your eyes are drawn to the serene face of Buddha's
abiding place in the north. You are studying the gilt ceiling
or the long rows of statues of Bodhisattvas that reside
on either side of the Buddha. You cannot take your eyes
from the agonizingly beautiful face of the Buddha
so tranquil, so peaceful, so Enlightened. A feeling of quiet
makes your shoulders relax. A monk, smiling so slightly,
gestures, drawing you into the peace of the shrine. You
slip off your shoes and follow, head bowed, the stress of
the outside world forgotten.
When you open your eyes, you are sitting
in your living room, staring at the peaceful and loving
face of your bronze Buddha. And you realize you have journeyed
in time in your own living room.
You stand in front of a seven foot carved
"room divider" once owned
by Nelson Rockefeller and imagine what he must have
felt as he studied the beautiful faces of Buddhist guardians.
You caress ancient cherry amber beads once prayed over by
a Shaolin monk. You sit in meditation in front of a six
foot Ming dynasty Kuan Shi Yin and imagine yourself
meditating seven hundred years ago at the delicate feet
of the compassionate Boddhisattva.
Asian Antiques, antiquities and art
have the unique power to draw you into a vortex of time.
Whether you stand in a museum, staring up in awe at a forty
foot Buddha, or sit in your family room holding a tiny two
hundred year old Boddhisattva, these antiquities have a
special power that triggers our ability to visualize, and
imagine. We journey. All art and antiques have this special
power. We wonder. We dream. We learn.
Antiques and Art
Art and Antiques go beyond beauty and tangible asset value. Yes,
antiques are an investment that steadily (and sometimes rapidly)
increases in value as they age and become rarer. But they, like
us, travel through time. They remind us of our past lives, of
our ancestors. They anchor us in time. Their value goes far beyond
appraised value or what 'someone is willing to pay.' Ultimately,
an antiquity, antique, or Asian Art is worth only what you feel
it is worth. Buddhist Art and Antiques are even more subjective.
Every Asian antique and art piece contains
objective value appraised value from experts based on rarity,
condition, provenance and subjective value. Subjective
value is your "personal" link to that artifact or period.
of Asian Antiques and Buddhist Art
It is overly simplistic to state that the older a piece, the more
valuable. However, rarity and history are what draw us all to
antiquities and art. Art, by definition, is a one-time creation.
It cannot be duplicated. It can be photographed, or shared in
a museum or gallery. But there can be only one. Antiques are even
more rare especially antiques in good condition.
Ultimately, Antiques, antiquities and art
will always increase in value. Our love for antiques and antiquities
and art carries only one risk, which Buddha warned us against
attachment. But if we realize that we enjoy the antique
or antiquity for "just a little while" we will not be
trapped in the cycle of 'craving'.
Asian Antiques and Art
So how is an antique, antiquity or art appraised? We use experts
to help us. Opinions. As in Real Estate we use compariables. We
analyze the style and condition to measure authenticity. We also
judge the provenance for example we know that the "guardians
room divider" was owned by Nelson A. Rockefeller
and by condition, by the style and characteristics. We can verify
our appraisal by studying other pieces of the period, by confirming
with experts and by comparables. The savvy collector studies the
market for Asian Antiques, using as comparables the "appraised"
prices of the Asian sales at Sotheby's and Christie's.
In the end, though, Asian art and antiques
call out to certain people. If it is 'for you' you will know it
just as we knew it when we started collecting. But you
should also know it will not be with you forever. Just as your
journey is forever, the journey of the antique and antiquity carries
on beyond our lifetimes.
Art of Craving
Buddha taught that "craving" is the evil that binds
us to rebirth. It is difficult not to 'crave' such beautiful art
and antiques until you realize that they are with you for just
a little while. Three hundred years from now another delighted
collector will meditate at the feet of the Buddha you once had
as your "guest."
At Antique Zen our collection is a quest to
preserve, share and educate. We put our collection online for
all to see. We "sell" pieces to devout and passionate
collectors in the sure knowledge they will move through time,
timeless, priceless and treasured.
Sangha and Sharing
We are part of the growing Sangha. We share not just our art and
antiques, but our expertise. This website will grow as our collection
grows, becoming an archive of arcane and priceless information
which we freely share with all. The Buddha's wisdom, the beauty
of Asian art and antiques, the antiquities of our ancestors
and the knowledge of the Buddha, the Darma and the Sangha
are for sharing.
The account of the Buddha's life which
has come down to us was transmitted orally for many centuries.
It is believed by Theravada Buddhists that the Buddha was
born in 624 B.C., although some scholars think that this date
is too early and that it is more likely to have been about
At that time, there was a small country
in what is now southern Nepal that was ruled by a clan called
the Shakyas. The head of this clan, and the king of this country,
was named Shuddodana Gotama, and his wife was the beautiful
Mahâ Mâyâ. Mâyâ was expecting
her first born. As was the custom of the day, Queen Mahâ
Mâyâ traveled to her father's kingdom for the
birth. But during the long journey, her birth pains began
and her child was born in the Lumbin” Park near the city of
Kapilavatthu. The couple named their son Gotama Siddhattha,
which means "he who has accomplished his aim".
Born a rich prince he was horrified by
the suffering of all humans. He wandered as a renunciate,
seeking salvation in meditation. He was enlightened and became
the Buddha, preaching the eightfold path and the four noble
truths that eliminated craving and suffering from the world.
The Four Noble Truths expressed the
cycle of suffering: that craving is the cause of all suffering;
that there is a remedy for this suffering that leads to
freedom from suffering. The path of the Buddha is the remedy
for suffering, the fourth of the noble truths. These could
be summarized as eliminating craving through moral conduct,
meditation and wisdom.
Although Buddha was Enlightened he was
not God. Buddha preached how man could become perfect and
free from suffering. Buddha taught others how they could
become free from suffering, Enlightened, and Buddhas or
We respect and honor the Enlightened
One with statues and art that reflect his guidance, perfection
and peace. Buddha is always portrayed sitting on the ground
rarely in a chair. Siddartha Buddha, Guatama Buddha,
the Historical Buddha is sometimes standing, or walking,
but never wears a crown or jewels or sits in a throne. He
wore simple robes with no adornment. His face is serene
and beautiful and peaceful. The Antique
Zen collection includes some of the most beautiful expressions
of Buddha Art. To gaze on the Buddha's likeness is to feel
Buddha taught the way for all people
to become Enlightened and become Buddhas. There were, he
taught, Buddhas before him. There would be Buddhas after
him. Siddartha Buddha (Tathagata, Guatama, Shakyamuni, Sakyamuni)
is often called the 'historical' Buddha because he was known
to have lived in 'our time'.
Principal among the Buddhas that preceeded
Him were Amita (Amitahabra, Amida) Buddha, the Buddha of
Compassion. There were many others, equally as inspirational,
from Yoshifu, the Medicine Buddha, through to the cosmic
The next Enlightened Buddha is currently
the Boddhisattva Maitreya. He is respected
as a Buddha in many cultures, and has reached Enlightenment
but lingers to help those who suffer in the world. He will
be the next Buddha and save the world from attachment, suffering
and craving with a renewed message. He will become the Buddha
when the world begins to forget the teachings of Shakyamuni
Buddha (Sage of the Shakyas his father's kingdom).
Maitreya's name means 'benevolence' and is known in Japan
as Miroku, in Chinese as Miluo Fo, in Tibet as Byams-pa, to
Mongols he is Maijdari and to the Vietnamese is is Di-lac.
Buddha was Enlightened, showed the way
to the world, and was released from suffering with paranirvana.
The followers of Buddha from many of his disciples
(the Arhats) to many of the believers who followed
became Enlightened by Buddha's teachings but delayed their
final nirvana so as to help the world and ease the world's
Buddhists are inspired by the examples
of the Boddhisattvas, following their peaceful ways, chanting
their peaceful sutras and meditating on their peaceful statues
Avolokiteshvara, known as Guan Yin in
China (Kuan Yin, Kuan Shi Yin "He who looks down with
compassion") is the best known of the compassionate
Boddhisattvas, much loved around the world. Avolokiteshvara,
sometimes depicted as a man, sometimes as a woman (especially
in China). The Boddhisattva is truly beyond the limitations
of sex or craving. They are reborn, lifetime after lifetime,
into the world sometimes male, sometimes female
to continue the compassionate work of the Dharma.
Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha
The three jewels of Buddhism are the Buddha, the Dharma and the
Sangha. The Buddha brought Enlightenment to save those who suffered.
The Dharma is his word and 'the way' similar in concept
to the Dao of Doaism (Taoism). The Sanha, the final jewel, is
the community of Buddhists, carrying on the good work.
The Buddha was born a prince of the Shakyas in Northern India
in the sixth century before Christ. He was named Siddhartha, the
son of Prince Suddhodana and Princess Maya, of the clan of Gautama.
Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in the garden of Lumbini, near
Kapilavastu, at the foot of the Himilayas near Nepal.
In a tradition that predates Christianity,
he was born without conception, decending as a perfected Bodhisattva
from the higher heaven of Tushita. His birth was foretold by many
Brahman priests and wise men.
Historically, Siddhartha Buddha lived, a Prince in northern Indian
who become dissatisfied with the suffering of the people. He became
a holy aspirant who sought Enlightenment. Ultimately, after years
of privation, he achieved Enlightenment and taught the Dharma
(the way, the Eightfold Path and the Four Truths) to his followers
(the Sangha). When his work was done, he passed in peace
his paranirvana after having changed the world. Buddhism
would change India and all of Asia, and become a dominant and
peaceful force in the world.
Twelve Acts of Buddha's Life
The more spiritually uplifting story of Buddha's life involves
beautiful symbolism in the twelve Acts of Buddha's Life:
The Boddhisattva Sayka-muni decends from
Tushita (heaven) in the form of a spiritual white elephant
Siddhartha enters Maya, his mother, without
In ten months he is born, a beautiful child.
His birth is signaled by many great manifestations and celebrations
Buddha, miraculously, as a new born child
takes seven steps in the four directions (corresponding to the
four miseries of life). He is raised as a Prince, but surrenders
himself to meditation on suffering. His father, warned by a
Sage that Siddartha would either be a great king or a great
Sage, shelters his son from the outside world so that he won't
see the evil of the real world and become a Holy Man.
Siddhartha is married to Yosoda and has
a son Rahula, but does not enjoy life and withdraws more and
more. Finally, inspired to find the purpose for life, he steals
out of the palace and witnesses, for himself, the evils of the
world: old age, sickness and death. Inspired by a Holy Man,
he renounces his rich and comfortable life.
Siddhartha, at the age of twenty-nine,
leaves the palace to pursue the ascetic life. He cuts his hair
and becomes the Sakya-muni (the sage of the Sakyas). For years
he seeks Enlightenment, helping and caring for others, learning
from all the sages and ascetics. Dissatisfied with their wisdom
he continues to wander, his fame growing.
Weary of false teachers he becomes a true
ascetic, mortifying his body, followed by five disciples. For
six years he gives himself up to painful abuse, sustaining himself
on a single grain of rice a day, until he is little more than
a skeleton. As he meditates under a tree, two young sisters
seeing that he is nearly dead, offer him a bowl of milk and
honey. He realizes that the way is balance, not ascetism.
Inspite of the reproach of his disciples,
he sits under a tree near Bodh-Gaya and declares that he will
not leave until he has attained the Bodhi perfect knowledge.
One night he obtains Enlightenment and gains full perception
of all his previous lives, gains understanding of the destruction
of evil desires and the twelve causes of suffering. He becomes
the Buddha as he understands the way to eliminate suffering.
Mara, the evil one, tempts him with visions
and dreams of horrors and temptations delightful women,
and rampaging armies and terrible torrents of nature. Unmoved,
Buddha continues to meditate, unafraid of Maya's temptations
and the struggle with his own past temptations and lives. Mara
even offers him Celestial Buddhahood, which he declines so that
he may teach man the four noble truths and the noble eightfold
path to salvation.
After seven times seven more days under
the tree, the Enlightened Buddha continues to meditate. Finally
he goes forth to teach and to gather the worthy disciples, the
Arhats. (the Worthy, or Saints).
He preaches for the first time the four
noble truths and the eightfold path, the turning of the Wheel
of the Law.
Buddha continued to preach and help people
for forty-five years, performing many miracles and converting
many with his ability to explain the path to Enlightenment.
Even his former wife and son become disciples. At over eighty
years of age he passes into paranirvana, final extinction. He
will be reborn no longer into suffering. His paranirvana is
dated at 477 BC.
Four Truths of Buddha
In his famous discourse at Benares, Buddha espoused the four holy
That there is pain (Duha) which traps us
in an endless cycle of suffering, death and rebirth.
That the pain is caused by craving (Samudaya).
That suppression of craving can eliminate
That the path to suppressing craving is
the eightfold path (arya ashtangika marga).
The Eightfold Path is the fourth truth the path to suppressing
the craving that leads to all suffering. The goal of the eightfold
path is to eliminate the cycle of twelve causes. A sense of morality
right thought, right conduct and right action leads
to the first steps toward perfection.
Since each life of suffering leads to further suffering and rebirth
(karmic law), Bodhisattvas who have obtained Enlightenment stay
in the world to help humans. The Bodhisattvas are both ideals
and objects of veneration. The Bodhisattvas are not gods, or even
Buddhas, but Enlightened beings who hold the keys to wisdom and
the secrets to life and rebirth. Many of the most valued antiques
and Buddhist artworks are of Bodhisattvas symbolic of their
power. The Buddhist, the Sangha, aspire to follow the Bodhisattva
Glossary of Buddhas
The collector is likely to have a "patron" Buddha or
Bodhisattva. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas represent similar ideals
with slightly different pathways to Enlightenment. Many routes
to the same destination. Most Buddhists focus on the Buddha or
Bodhisattva closest to them. For reference, here are some of the
Buddhas venerated in Buddhist Antiques and Art and (in brakets)
how they are typically recognized:
The compassionate Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light, in sanskrit
Amitabha, in Chinese Omitofo. Amida is the ethereal form of
the Historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. Amida was so moved by the
suffering of the world that he is the spiritual father of the
blessed Bodhisattva Kuan Shi Yin (Guan Yin or Avalokitesvara).
Amida, is certainly the most beloved of the Buddhas. Amida so
loved the world that he offered another way to escape rebirth
through Sukhavati, the Western Paradise of Infinite Light.
(Amida, the celestial manifestation of Shakyamuni, is often
posed as the Historical Buddha)
Adi Buddha: The first one, the wise one.
(Adi Buddhas are typically in regal robes and often crowned
to signify their celestial nature.)
Buddha: The historical
Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, Shakyamuni, the Sage of the Shakyas,
the living Buddha of our age. (Buddha is often sitting in a
lotus, never in a chair, in plain loose robes with a high chignon
and a beautiful, peaceful face)
Manla: The Supreme Physician, called Yao-shi-fo
in China (Yaku-shi in Japan), is one of the most beloved of
the Buddhas. He is the most compassionate of the Buddhas, the
Healer, the Buddha of Charity. He was already a Buddha before
Shakyamuni become a Buddha. (Manla, the Medicine Buddha, sits
in lotus, has a beautiful Buddha face and holds a medicine bowl
in the right hand and/or a branch with fruit in the left.)
Samantabahadra: Buddha of Universal Kindness,
the Tibetan Adi Buddha, Fujen in Japan. (Uniquely not crowned
or in regal robes.)
Vajradhara: the indestructible, lord of
mysteries, master of secrets, the outer manifestation of Adi
Buddha. (Normally holding a thunderbold, seated as Buddha.)
Vajrasattva: Buddha of Supreme Intelligence.
(Often portrayed holding the special emblem of the Svabhavika,
a trident rising from a lotus flower.)
The Bodhisattvas are full of compassion
and love for humanity. They are "closer" to the
unenlightened and seek to save the human race from suffering.
The best known of the blessed ones are:
Avalokitesvara, the Compassion of
Buddha, is the most popular of the Bodhisattvas. In China
she is beloved as Guan Shi Yin or Kuan Yin, the most beautiful.
In Tibet he has a hundred arms to reach out and comfort
all the suffering of the world. More
Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism
and father of Kung Fu, the original patriarch of Zen who
carried Buddhism from India to China. Bodhidharma sat
in a cave for seven years to achieve Enlightenment, not
moving, eating or drinking. (He is often portrayed as
a wild eyed monk.)
beloved as the savior of those in trouble and the
dead in Japan. He is Kshitigarbha in India or Ti-Tsang
in China. Jizo is the "Mystery of the Earth",
sometimes called the 'good judge.' He is the "master
of the six world's of desire.' (Jizo is often depicted
as a shaven monk, walking in simple robes.)
the future Buddha. Just as Siddhartha was a Bodhisattva
before his paranirvana, Maitreya will be the next Buddha.
He will "turn the wheel" when the world has
forgotten the teachings of Siddhartha Buddha. He is considered
both a Buddha and a Bodhisattva. (Maitreya is either standing
or seated in lotus with a stuppa as a crown.)
Bodhisattva of Wisdom, holding the sword that cuts through
ignorance. He was a wandering monk who gained Enlightenment
and journeyed to Nepal where he preached the Dharma. In
China he is known as Wenshu and in Japan Monju. (Manjusri
normally holds a sword or rides an elephant.)
Tara: the saviouress, beloved of
Tibet, the spiritual daughter of Avalokitesvara. Tara's
name is called upon by those in danger, in pain or the
sufferers. There are thousands of stories of Tara helping
those who call her name. Of all the Bodhisattvas, Tara's
name is the one most likely to be called upon by those
in pain. Her compassion and joy are boundless. (Tara is
always a young woman, often crowned and jeweled.)
Vajrapani, the thunderbolt, was Buddha's
'guardian' and appeared at his birth, helped Siddhartha
escape from his father's palace, and stood over Buddha
as he passed through paranirvana. Vajrapani is the 'enemy'
of evil and conqueror of demons and cravings. (Varjapani
is always shown holding a thunderbolt.)
Vajravana, the Bodhisattva of the
Northern Realm, (Tamon-ten or Bishamon-ten in Japan, Duowen
in China, Rnam Thos-kyu Bu in Tibet) is sometimes called
the King of the North. He is often associated with "wealth"
and success and fabulous treasures. He is also a healing
Bodhisattva, with many miracles associated with his worship.
Protector, the guardian of Buddha. In Chinese temples
Wei-to is always a kind faced warrior leaning on his sword,
standing facing Buddha at the entrance. He is beloved
of the Chinese.
From Tibet where he is the patron
Bodhisattva of the dalai Lama to Japan, where he
is Kannon, the Merciful, Avalokitesvara is the most universally
beloved of the Bodhisattvas. Avalokitesvara embodies compassion
and is often depicted with a hundred arms and many heads
to symbolize the many arms that reach out to help people.
In China, the merciful nature of Avalokitesvara
is embodied in Guan Shi Yin, or Kuan Yin "He
who looks down with compassion." Kuan Yin is often
depicted as either male or female, and in Northern China
is "the Goddess" worshiped by millions of devoted
followers. The nurturing nature of Guan Yin's compassion
led to the familiar "motherly" depictions of the
beloved Bodhisattva. Avalokitesvara, or Guan Yin, is the
name called out by sufferers in pain, or women in childbirth,
or the oppressed of the world. There are thousands of stories
of miracles of compassion associated with the blessed Bodhisattva
Avalokitesvara is the spiritual son
or emanation of the compassion of Amida and the spiritual
father of Tara.
Glossary of Asian and Sanskrit
Collectors should understand some of the commonly used terms that
help identify the sculptures and paintings of Asian and Buddhist
Art, Antiquities and Antiques. Often the mudra (hand gesture)
of a statue is the only way to identify a Buddha. Here is a basic
Abhaya, the Blessing of Fearlessness, the
mudra (hand gesture) of protection, used by Buddha to immediately
calm a rampaging elephant. The arm is elevated and slightly
bent with the palm turned outward.
Akasa, the void, the uncreated.
Amrita, the dew of life. Guan Yin often
carries a jar containing amrita, sweet dew.
Anjali, the mudra of salutation, both arms
stretched out, palms upward, sacred to Avalokitesvara and Amida.
Asana, symbolic support of a Buddha or
Bodhisattva, normally a lotus flower.
Aum, or Om, is the sacred breath, a chant
used in meditation, the blessed word.
Bhagavat, "the happy one" refers
to the Buddha
Bhikshu, a Buddhist monk, one who assumes
the beggars staff and bowl and takes the way of the Dharma and
Bhumisparsa, mudra of 'the witness', with
the palm turned inward and all the fingers extended downward
with the third finger touching the lotus throne and the left
hand turned upward on the lap. This was the mudra used by Buddha
to invoke the Gods to witness his defeat of Mara (temptation
of evil). Very popular pose in Shakyamunit statues.
Bodhi-druma, the tree of Enlightenment.
Buddha sat under a fig tree, his Bodhi-druma, when he obtained
Buddhasmarana, mudra of salutation with
the right hand raised to the head, palm outward.
Caitya, or Stupa, a Buddhist sanctuary.
The arhats, the disciples of Buddha, buried parts of Buddha
under sacred stupas, dividing them among many countries. Miniature
stupas are symbols of sanctuary. Maitreya is often depicted
with a stupa as a crown.
Cakra, the wheel, a symbol of completeness
and the cycles, symbolizing Buddha's wheel of the law, with
eight spokes representing the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment.
The wheel is one of the most powerful amulets and symbols of
Buddhism and Vedic beliefs.
Camara, a fly whisk, symbolic of Buddhist
Enlightenment and power. Monks, sworn not to kill, carried the
whisk as a symbol of their faith, unable to kill insects and
preferring to whisk them away. Devout monks even carried brooms
to sweep away insects lest they walk on them and kill them.
Cintamani, the sacred jewel or magic gem,
which satisfies all desires. It is the special symbol of Kshitigarbha,
Samantabahadra and Gizo. It takes many
Dharma, the law of Buddha. The three jewels
of Buddhism are expressed in the chant: "I take refuge
in the three jewels: The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha
until I reach Enlightenment." Buddha taught to trust in
him, his word (the Dharma) and his followers (the Sangha).
Dhyana, or Samadhi, deep meditation. Amida
is often portrayed in the mudra of Dhyana hands lie across
the lap, right on top of the left, fingers extended and palms
Fuh-shou-can, Buddha's fingers symbolized
as a 'horned lemon', the symbol of Manla, Yoishifo, the Medicine
Gaja, the elephant, sacred to Samantabahadra.
The white elephant symbolizes Buddha. Elephants are sacred all
Ghanta, bell with a Vajra (thunderbolt)
handle, used in Buddhist ceremony.
Hinayana, "the small conveyance",
the literal doctrine of Shakyamuni, the Buddha. Believers strictly
follow Buddha's teachings
Hossu, the symbol of monk's moral leadership,
the fly whisk that prevents him from 'killing' insects by accident.
Kalasa, the vase that holds the amrita,
the elixir of life, carried by Kuan Yin and Padmapani.
Khagpa, the sword of Enlightenment, that
cuts through ignorance, the special symbol of Manjusri.
Lakshana, the thirty-two symbols by which
you can recognize a Buddha, including the Ushnisha and Urna.
Madhyamayana, the middle conveyance.
Mahayana, the greater conveyance
the way of the Bodhisattva.
Mala, the sacred rosary of Avalokitesvara,
used in meditation and prayer by monks and followers.
Mandala, the sacred symbol of the universe,
drawn in squares and circles (in colored sand grains by Tibetan
monks to symbolize impermanence), and sacred symbols.
Mantra, sacred mystic sounds, repeated
in meditation and prayer and powerful in moving the mind towards
Mo-yu, fish drum used in sacred ceremonies
in Buddhist Chinese and Japanese temples.
Mudra, symbols of power formed with the
hands, used in ceremonies and meditation, and by which many
statues and paintings are identified. Used together with Mantras
they are considered very powerful.
Muni, a saint or sage. Shakya-muni, Buddha,
is the "Sage" of the Shakyas.
Naga, serpant spirits, symbolic of earth
power, said to have protected Buddha from the elements as he
meditated on Enlightenment. Often that Naga is represented in
art and statues as a giant cobra.
Nirvana, the extinction of worldly desires
and cravings that leads to Enlightenment. Contrary to popular
belief amongst non-Buddhists, Nirvana is neither paradise (delighting
in paradise is a form of craving) or extinction of existence.
It is the highest stage of bliss, "the blowing out of selfish
Om, the sacred syllable, chanted in meditation,
said to have mystic power.
Paranirvana, the ultimate nirvana of Buddha,
release from this world.
Paravara, a group of Bodhisattvas
Patra, the begging bowl carried by Buddha,
the arhats and the Sanha monks. Patra was more than a symbol
of release from craving and desires, it showed the dedication
of monks to the Dharma.
Prajnika, the three jewels: the Buddha,
the Dharma and the Sangha.
Sakti, the female energy or aspect of a
Samadhi, the deepest form of meditation.
Sankha, a Conch shell, symbolic of the
preaching of Buddha.
Sarira, bones, relics or ashes of the Buddha,
buried under a stupa.
Simha, the lion, symbolic of courage and
strength, sacred to Vairocana.
Sukhavati, the Western Paradise of Amida.
Amida so loved his people that he gave them a less 'agonizing'
way to find Enlightenment rebirth in Sukhavati, possible
through prayer, meditation and devotion.
Sutra, the words of Buddha.
Svastika, or Manji, a sacred symbol of
Buddhism, often confused with the reverse direction symbol of
Nazism. It often appears on Buddha's chest, over his heart or
on his lotus 'throne'. It is symbolic of life and the heart
Tantra, mystical treatises that offer a
"mystical" way to Enlightenment, most often practiced
in Tibet. Tantra's mystical symbols, gestures, mudras, and ceremonies
heighten awareness of the way to Enlightnment.
Tathagata, is the highest 'title' of the
Buddha, Tatha, means "thus" and "gata" translates
as "gone". It signifies that the Buddha will not be
born again and has escaped the cycle of suffering through Enlightenment.
Triratna, the three jewels: Buddha, Dharma,
Urna, the third eye or divine eye, symbolic
of spiritual insight and Enlightenment. Often the urna is depicted
as a tuft of hair between the two eyes, one of the thirty-two
signs of a Buddha.
Ushnisha, the protuberance of the skull,
symbolizes wisdom, the divine manas. Often the Ushnisha is portrayed
with a pile of long wavy or curled hair drawn up to a high point.
Vashra, literally 'diamond' or 'that which
is indestructible.' Thunderbolts are symbolic of 'that which
is indestructible', symbolic of mystic truth.
Yin Yang, literally 'male' and 'female',
symbolic of the many opposing forces that constitute existence.
Although this is one of the most powerful symbols in Taoism
(Daoism) it is often used in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism as
the perfect symbol for balance and harmony.
Yoga, the practice of 'ecstatic meditation',
the union of the spiritual and material in a union 'yoga.'.
Zushi, a traveling shrine, popular in Japan
and treasured by collectors. It allowed devout Buddhists to
carry a portable Buddhist shrine with them on long journeys.
They are often beautifully carved and gilt, and fold into secure
and ornate boxes.