About Tibetan Jewellery
Tibetan jewellery and art is deeply symbolic. It is part of everyday life and is connected with religious beliefs. Tibetans are Buddhist and chanting is an important part of their culture. Ohm or om is a chant recognized by most people but the full popular ancient mantra (sacred word or phrase) of Tibet is om mani padme hum. This mantra is sometimes inscribed on Tibetan jewellery and loosely translated, it means that through practice, it is possible for the impure (unenlightened) to achieve The Jewel in the Lotus; Buddhahood. Tibetan jewellery is quite beautiful, stylish and simple with vibrant colours. The colours most used are bright red and light-blue. Other colours used are green and yellow. Tibetans value their jewellery based on its colour, size and symbolism. Tibetan jewellery, including silver and gold jewellery, also tends to be much larger in size than the jewellery made in most other countries.
Most of the jewellery makers today can be found in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, particularly in the old part of town. Many jewellery makers have been there for centuries, since business remains within the family, the skills passed down through the generations. The Tibetans have been skilled silversmiths for many years. In fact, Tibetan silversmiths and goldsmiths were believed to be one of the wonders of the medieval world! Documents uncovered in China from the 7th century praise their skills. The jewellery is made from the highest-quality silver and often features turquoise, coral and amber gemstones. Tibetans believe that turquoise and coral have healing qualities and that gemstones can provide protection. Most of the semi-precious gems are found in the Himalayas with some of the gems e.g. blue lapis lazuli being imported from Afghanistan. The silver used in Tibetan jewellery is 92.5 % pure and some Tibetan silver jewellery has a rustic, unfinished look to it. It is handmade using hammers and chisels, which makes it charming and unique. Tibetan Buddhists can be seen walking around wearing prayer beads, called malas. Malas are prayer beads used for reciting repetitions of prayers or chants called "mantras" and are used during meditation. They have been used for thousands of years in Tibetan, Chinese and Indian Buddhism. Similar beads are used in Christianity. The beads are made from an assortment of semi-precious stones, beads and yak bone. The stones chosen in the mala have a particular significance.
For example, turquoise is for wisdom and spiritual journeys. Tiger's eye is believed to create order out of chaos and promote harmony. The Tibetan jewellery style had a major influence on other cultures, particularly those ferocious warriors known as The Mongols. The Mongol Empire existed for almost 150 years, up until the end of the 14th century, with the Great Mongol Empire being founded by Chinggis Khaan (also spelled Genghis Khan). The Empire included Northern China, Turkestan, the Middle East, Russia, Ukraine, Caucasus and Iran. One of Chinggis's grandsons, Kublai Khan, conquered the whole territory of China and became the founder of the Mongol Dynasty in China. Tibetan Buddhism was popular with the Mongols, therefore, the Mongol taste in jewellery is similar to the Tibetan, with a love of turquoise and salmon-coloured coral. High grade silver is used with turquoise and coral. The long life knot is a frequent motif in Mongol as well as Tibetan Buddhist designs.