Carpet Symbols and meanings
Tibetan symbolism is portrayed throughout our traditional rug and product collections. The symbolic meanings are mainly explained from a Tibetan perspective. Buddhism is strongly embedded in the Tibetan cultural way of life, so many of the symbolic meanings have a reference to Buddhism. Information on symbolism has been obtained from a wide variety of sources including the Tibetan people I have liaised with in Nepal, encyclopaedias, Buddhist literature, journals and so on. See “Traditional Tibetan Symbolism” for more information on the symbolic meanings of our products.
The Mandala is a sacred symbol in many eastern cultures. The objects in a mandala contain more meanings than can adequately be explained here. The following examples are meant to demonstrate the types of symbolism that a mandala provides. In Tibetan Buddhism, a mandala is an imaginary palace that is contemplated during meditation. Each object in the palace has a significant meaning representing some aspect of wisdom or reminding us of some guiding principle. There are many different mandalas and each one has a different symbolic meaning.
According to Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, mandalas transmit positive energies and love to the environment and to the people who view them. Mandalas are believed to achieve purification and healing. Indian Buddhism mandalas represent individual enlightenment, the liberation of all beings and the development of insight and compassion toward the nature of reality. Mandalas signify;
- Positive healing energy
- Universal law
- Wisdom of equality
- The accomplishment of wisdom
The four gateways within a mandala are the "Four Immeasurable Thoughts":
- Sympathetic Joy
A Mandala is a representation of the universe, a sacred area that serves as a vessel for the gods and as a collection point for universal forces. The Tibetan mandala is a tool for gaining wisdom and compassion and generally is depicted as a tightly balanced, geometric composition where deities reside. The principal deity is housed in the centre. The mandala serves as a tool for guiding individuals along the path to enlightenment. Monks meditate upon the mandala, imagining it as a three-dimensional palace. The deities who reside in the palace signify philosophical views and serve as role models. The mandala’s purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones.
The Endless Knot
The Endless Knot is also known as the Interwoven knot of life or The knot of eternity. Tibetans believe the mystical knot is surrounded with mysterious powers that bring happiness, long life, love and a balance of harmony. It represents the illusive character of time, and brings long life as it is endless. It represents the knot of love and the thread that guides us to everlasting happiness. See “Traditional Tibetan Symbols” for more information.
Tibetan Snow Lions
The Snow Lion is a celestial animal of Tibet. It symbolizes fearlessness and unconditional cheerfulness. It represents dominance over mountains, and the earthly elements. The Snow Lion signifies a clear and precise mind free of doubt. It has a beauty and dignity resulting from a body and mind that are synchronized. The Snow Lion has a youthful, vibrant energy of goodness and a natural sense of delight. It ranges over the mountains and is often pictured as being white.
The Garuda is a large mystical bird that appears in both Buddhist and Hindu mythology. It represents wisdom, dominance over the sky, and the fire element. The Garuda is daring and fearless and abides in the north. It has great strength and power and soars through the skies without holding back. It is a powerful antidote to the negative influences of Nagas (spirits) which can cause all kinds of harm and diseases. It symbolizes freedom from fears and represents a vast mind.
Tibetan Dragons hold the power of dominance over the sea and the element of water. Dragons represent protection. They are said to protect one from slander and enhance one’s reputation. Dragons have the power of complete communication. The Dragon thunders in the sky with the sound of compassion that awakens us from delusion and increases what we can learn through communication.
Deer represent peace in the Tibetan culture. They are a direct reference to the Buddha’s first teaching in the Deer Park, Sarnath. It is said that the Buddha’s appearance and peaceful presence attracted animals to his audience.
Tibetans believe that a grouping of clouds signify unity and strength. The entire imagery in the adjacent carpet displays groupings of clouds.
Books represent the attainment of knowledge and wisdom.
Scarfs signify blessings. In Tibetan culture, scarfs are offered to high Lamas (advanced spiritual teachers). The Lama generally blesses the scarf and hands it back to the recipient offering blessings.
A Rainbow signifies good luck or the birth of a new Tibetan Lama also know as a Rinpoche (spiritual teacher).
An incense box represents offerings. Offering incense symbolises moral ethics and discipline and is intended to increase one’s ethical behaviour. Making an offering is considered to be good training against greed and attachment.
The Great Treasure Vase
The Tibetan Treasure vase symbolizes “inexhaustible treasures”. No matter how much is removed from the vase, it remains eternally full. It symbolises an endless rain of long life, wealth, the fulfilment of material desires, the attainment of prosperity and all of the benefits of this world. See “Traditional Tibetan Symbolism” for more information.
The Lotus flower
The lotus flower is the universal “symbol of purity” and it is present in all forms of Buddhism and Hinduism. The lotus represents the complete purification of body, speech and mind and the blossoming of wholesome deeds toward the path of liberation. The colour of the lotus flower has a significant bearing upon its symbolic meaning, see “Traditional Tibetan Symbolism” for a detailed description.
The Tibetan Apron
The Tibetan Apron signifies merit gained through good deeds and spiritual devotion.
Traditional Floral designs
Tradition floral designs generally do not hold any significant spiritual meanings however they have been portrayed as artwork on Tibetan rugs for centuries. Early floral designs on antique rugs can be traced back to influences from ancient Chinese’s dynasties and different eras throughout Tibetan history.