Friday, January 28, 2005

Damaged dZi

Above: An ancient four eyed dZi that unfortunately got damaged at some point in its history. Deep wear can be seen at the damaged end. This kind of wear happens after rubbing against other stone beads for possibly many hundreds of years - which indicates that this bead was worn and heirloomed even though it was damaged. It is clear that this dispels the myth that dZi are discarded when broken.

Tibetans believe that a damaged bead loses some of its power to protect the wearer. However, most Tibetans still feel there is benefit in wearing damaged beads as amulets. I have seen many Tibetan owned beads with old repairs and they are still highly valued. Broken beads are often given a new lease of life with careful restoration. Sometimes damaged beads are set into a statue, ring or pendant. Very few undamaged dZi would be set into jewellery if they still functioned as a wearable bead. Small barrel or oval shaped dZi are normally set into a gold saddle ring and are particularly fashionable with wealthy Tibetans.

Both damaged and undamaged dZi are used in Tibetan Medicine. Small shavings or chips are carefully taken from the body of the bead, and this is usually done near the perforations. A chip is never taken from an eye. It is believed that by offering a small shaving for medicinal use, you would accumulate a great deal of merit. "As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap." In Tibetan medicine, dZi are used in the treatment of epilepsy and circulatory problems. It is also believed that they can regulate the heart and generally keep the body free from illness. Beads are usually ground up and mixed with other herbs and minerals to produce pills (Tibetan: Rilbu), which are then ingested.

Most Tibetans believe that if your dZi breaks whilst being worn it has absorbed some major obstacle or illness. A breakage is usually recognised as a positive indication that the dZi has served its function. A damaged bead will decrease in value if it were ever sold. It would also be viewed as having less amuletic power for any future buyer. If the bead can be repaired it will continue to be worn. If the bead cannot be repaired, it may possibly be set into a ring. It may also be used in adorning statues and stupas. Stories about beads being discarded because they are damaged are not accurate.

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