Symbols of RichesIn both Hindu and Buddhist Himalayan art, precious substances are more than a feast for the eyes, they are metaphors for spiritual transformation. These are just a few of the many symbols that represent a wide range of physical and spiritual assets and are repeated in many of the paintings, sculptures, and textiles in this exhibition, both overtly and covertly.
Gold, a symbol of purity and truth as well as the artistic realization of light and, by extension, enlightenment, holds different meanings when fashioned into particular earring shapes.
|The Queen's earrings, seen at left, designate peace, prosperity, and beauty. The Minister's earrings, seen at right, signify intelligent counsel.|
|Ivory symbolizes power—both military might and spiritual strength—and longevity. The elephant embodies these powers, as represented by the crossed ivory tusks seen on the left.|
|The unicorn horn, or, as seen on the left, rhinoceros horn, represents the removal of poisons (mental and physical) and enhanced potency.|
The white pearl, as seen on the left, denotes the moon and feminine energy.
Conversely, the red coral branch, seen to the right, signifies the sun and masculine energy.
|Images of gold and silver ingots, such as the one seen on the left, and punch-marked coins, seen on the right, suggest rewards promised to the faithful.|
|The Victory Banner on the left is an ensign of perpetual successes—representing victory in both spiritual and material matters. The General's crossed gems at right, however, are a symbol of military prowess and denote the ability to overcome negativities, real and imagined.|
|Flaming or wish-granting jewels, called cintimani, appear both singly, and—as seen on the left—piled in a heap. They provide boundless riches, illuminate the darkness, control weather, heal illness, and promote longevity.|