Thursday, December 06, 2007

Traditional Tibetan outfit with adornments. This type of attire would have been worn by a local official. Men wore large necklaces and strings of turquoise dangled from their ear.

An old mala made up of coconut shell disc shaped beads and strung with carnelian spacers. Counters are attached to keep track of mantra accumulations. One side keeps track of the hundreds and the other keeps track of the thousands. When 10,000 mantras have been completed a marker (such as the small pieces of turquoise pictured) is moved one disc bead along. 10 disc beads would equal 100,000 recitations. For those who have several different types of mantras to recite then their mala may have several different markers.

Pictured above is a small metal Dorje (Vajra). This and similar pieces are usually strung on the tassle of a Guru bead. They can be fastened securely to a belt or an item of clothing. Tibetans still use these today to protect against loss and to stop their beads from falling on the floor. Very handy for Tibetans who are always on the move.

Old disc bead mala with carnelian. This style of mala is usually favoured by Tibetan women.

A prized ancient agate bead (centre) with exceptional colour contrast.

Ancient round agate eye bead and single stripe decorated agate bead.

Ancient decorated agate beads. It is very unsual to find the central Longevity bead in this size and shape.

Ancient green stone bead sourced from a Tibetan trader in North East India.

Ancient agate bead with natural eye. This bead has a fantastic patina and an unusual yellow colour.
Large ancient agate bead with excellent colour.

The one-of-a-kind oval shaped carnelian bead (with cross decoration) is exceptionally rare. I have never seen another decorated bead like this.

Various ancient beads including round lonegvity bead and decorated carnelian cone bead.

A zoomorphic agate. Possibly shaped like the head of a tiger. Sourced in North East India. 

This was proabably a  9 or 12 eyed bead when it was whole. Now only six eyes remain.

A spectacular ancient agate eye bead.

Ancient agate bead with natural eye.

Ancient Luk Mik dZi.

Ancient agate bead with natural eye formation.

Vivid turquoise bead flanked with ancient Jasper.

Ancient six striped carnelian bead.

Various ancient agate beads including the reverse side of a Luk Mik (far right).

Various ancient stone beads.

Various ancient stone beads.

Pumtek strung with other Himalayan treasures.

Ancient green jasper bead with subtle facets.

Very old Pumtek beads with pale colour (possibly from longtime burial).

Old Pumtek bead from Burma.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Decorated stone Pumtek beads from Burma.

Old Pumtek beads from Burma.

Tabular Pumtek (Burma).

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rare tabular pumtek.

A prized tabular Pumtek with zig zag and stipe design.

Ancient Pumtek beads from Burma. These beads are believed to date to the Pyu/Tircul period. The Pyu people were of Sino-Tibetan origin and were distinct from other Burmans. They establised the first state in Burma. Pumtek clearly have a lot in common with ancient dZi. It is possible that dZi beads influenced Burmese beads makers to create their own comparable beads. Pumtek are made from fossilised or petrified palmwood which is regarded as a variety of chalcedony. In Burma they are also known as 'Chin Pati' (Chin Beads) and are still highly prized as heirloom beads by the Chin people.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tibetan woman., originally uploaded by joshmaxwell.

A young Tibetan woman adorned with huge antique red coral. The coral beads have been set into silver and then strung on coloured braids.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tibetan woman, originally uploaded by susanhardman.

A Tibetan woman at the Tibetan horse festival in Qinghai. She is adorned with an outstanding collection of amber, coral and dZi. Such wealth is only worn during festivals and formal occasions.
Happy dancers 2, originally uploaded by Sirensongs.

Tibetan women from the Western regions of Tibet.

The above image shows a Ladakhi woman. The chank shell (Turbinella pyrum) which is seen on her wrists is a precious material that is regarded as sacred throughout the Himalayan regions. It is widely known as conch but this is actually incorrect. A true conch is of the gastropod family known as Strombidae. Chank bracelets are usually placed on the wrists of young Ladakhi girls and once they have been outgrown they are cut off and replaced. A Ladakhi woman would wear these bracelets for the duration of her life.
Complete shells are used as ritual trumpets and are known by the name 'Dung Kar ' in Tibet. Shells that spiral to the right are particularly sought after and are regarded as the most sacred of these shells. It is also believed that the hair on the Buddhas crown spirals to the right. Round perforated disks (see image above) are an essential part of the hand held prayer wheel. A perforated disk sits at the top of the handle and helps the drum spin more smoothly. This is assisted by a length of bamboo that spins on the conch disk. Once the bamboo has managed to drill itself all the way through the disc, a new piece of conch is added and the process starts again. Used disks are usually worn as beads by the prayer wheel owner. These discs are collected over many years. Tibetans consider them to be imbued by energy of the thousands of mantras contained in the prayer wheel drum. Malas (prayer beads) can also be made from chank and are particularly sought after.

Tibetan Puja

The chank shell plays an important role in Buddhist symbology. It is one of the Eight Auspicious symbols, which reflects the spreading of the Dharma in all directions, like the sound of a conch trumpet. It is regarded as a symbol which fearlessly proclaims the truth of the Buddha's teachings. It is also believed that a Buddha displays self-manifesting signs on his or her body. This is one of the many indications that shows they have achieved enlightenment. The chank shell appears on the Buddha's throat, the soles of the feet, palms, limbs, breast or forehead. It is also recognised that the Indian subcontinent is the shape of a chank shell.
A day in Tibetan Camp 07, originally uploaded by Arif Siddiqui.

Tibetan woman in Arunachal Pradesh.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

 Ancient Bhaisajyaguru bead with natural crystalline eye.

A selection of Ancient Tiger dZi which should not to be confused with Tasso dZi. Notice that these beads have two main stripes (decorated like waves). Some also display a central stripe and/or end stripes. These beads have now become very sought after and are popular as spacers on a mala.

A collection of ancient agate beads.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tibetan Women in Darjeeling, India.
circa 1912.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Old Bodhiseed Mala with coral and glass beads.

I first noticed Sting wearing a nine eyed dZi in an interview with Michael Parkinson in 2004. It is unlikely that this is a genuine ancient bead (looking at the top photo), but it is obviously very precious to him because he is rarely seen without it. Ancient nine eyed beads are extremely scarce and can command more than $100,000.

Ancient Two Eyed dZi bead with natural crystalline inclusions.