Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Large ancient four striped Chung dZi with damage. 
Sourced in Nepal. approx 70 mm x 17.89 mm

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ancient carnelian beads.

Ancient carnelians with 'infinity' decoration.

Ancient carnelians with 'infinity' or 'endless knot' decoration.

Ancient decorated carnelian beads.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Three ancient banded agate beads.

Old rosewood mala with ivory and shell guru bead.

Old ivory disc bead mala with silver counters.

Ancient round agate eye bead (approx 14 mm). Sourced in Northern India.

Rare ancient decorated carnelian bead.

Ancient banded agate bead (rare colour). Sourced in Nepal. 32 mm x 14 mm

Large ancient banded agate bead (Sourced in Nepal). 45mm x 17 mm

Various ancient decorated stone beads.

Various ancient beads.

Various ancient decorated beads and a small ancient agate eye bead.

Ancient Luk Mik dZi

Ancient Phum dZi (centre).

The round ancient longevity bead is much larger than normally seen (13.19mm). Most beads of this type are usually smaller than 10 mm. A small ancient three eyed dZi (three dots) is also shown.

Ancient decorated agate with the Longevity design.

Ancient decorated carnelian with three dots or eyes.

Ancient banded agate bead.

Ancient Luk Mik dZi.

Ancient carnelian Luk Mik.

Ancient agate eye bead.

Ancient Phum dZi.

Antique ivory pendant with zoomorphic carving. It could possibly represent a salamander but also looks rather feline in nature.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ancient three eyed dZi bead. 40.66 mm x 13.12 mm

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Old counters with stylised cloud design.

Old pair of mala counters with vajra (dorje) and bell (drilbu)

Silver counters with turquoise and coral inlay.

Old counters with Vajra

Old counters with a Bell or Drilbu

Old silver counters with Tibetan cloud design

Old counters with Tibetan cloud design

Old counters with vajra

Old counters with vajra

Old counters with coral inlay

Old counters with vajra (front).

Old silver counters with stylised vajra inlaid with red coral.

Counters are primarily used to help keep track of mantra and prayer recitations and are usually strung as a pair. One set will keep track of each hundred recitations, up to 1000. The other set will keep track of each thousand recitations, up to 10,000. Once 10,000 recitations have been achieved a small separate marker is used on the mala. In this way, many millions of mantras can be recorded by a Tibetan Buddhist during the course of one's lifetime. Each of the counter sets should be strung with 11 beads (including the more ornate pendant bead at the bottom). Only the ten smaller beads on each set are used for counting. The pendant bead which hangs at the very bottom is usually a vajra (dorje) or bell (drilbu) but may also include other Vajrayana symbols or stylised Tibetan motifs (see the counters with clouds). Some are plain and others may be inlaid with coral or turquoise. The counter beads are usually made from silver or other types of metal. Old counters are normally strung on leather cord.

Antique amber beads. Sourced in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ancient round agates with the longevity decoration.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ancient decorated agates (Longevity dZi).

Ancient Luk Mik dZi.

Various ancient beads.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ancient bicone stone bead (probably artificially coloured quartz). Sourced in Nepal.

Above: A collection of ancient decorated agates and carnelians with the longevity or net design (lengths approx 15 mm to 20 mm). They are also known as 'Longevity dZi' because the design resembles the shell of a turtle (which is often associated with long life in Asia). Similar decorated beads have been excavated in Taxila and date to around the 3rd century BCE (Beck).

The above beads are not to be confused with the Phum dZi (see image at the bottom of this post) which can also display a net/longevity design but are likely to be much older creations. In fact many Tibetans believe Phum dZi are the oldest of all dZi types. Phum dZi tend to be large fat beads that have a grey to black base colour. They can also display eyes and other unique decorations, which are unlikely to be seen on the smaller bead types shown above.

 Above: An ancient decorated agate (center) 
with the much rarer 'lotus' design

Sometimes these decorated agates can also display a lotus decoration (see bead above). Many Phum dZi (but not all) can be crudely decorated with a more freeform shape (but are generally long or barrel shaped) and with sometimes poorly executed (off center) perforations. They also tend to have a stronger usage patina and often turn up on Tibetan heirloom strands. The above beads are much more common than the Phum dZi and are most certainly of Indian origin, hence the reason Tibetans call them 'Indian' dZi. They tend to be no more than 25 mm in length (usually less than 20 mm) and have a distinct 'tapered oval' shape. The decoration is also more clearly defined than what we see on most Phum dZi. They can appear in both agate and carnelian, whereas the larger Phum dZi is never made from carnelian.


Above: Ancient Phum dZi (32.61 mm x 12 mm)