Top Ten Tibetan/Nepali Artifacts

Top Ten Tibetan/Nepali Artifacts

       Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 m (16,000 ft). Tibet emerged in the 7th century as a unified empire, but it soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet were often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments in Lhasa, Shigatse, or nearby locations; these governments were at various times under Mongol and Chinese overlordship. The eastern regions of Kham and Amdo often maintained a more decentralized indigenous political structure, being divided among a number of small principalities and tribal groups, while also often falling more directly under Chinese rule; most of this area was eventually incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. Following the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912, Qing soldiers were disarmed and escorted out of Tibet. The region declared its independence in 1913. The region maintained its autonomy until 1951 when, following a military conflict, Tibet was incorporated into the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959 after a failed uprising. Today, the PRC governs western and central Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region while eastern areas are mostly within Sichuan and Qinghai provinces. There are tensions regarding Tibet’s political status and dissident groups are active in exile. The economy of Tibet is dominated by subsistence agriculture, though tourism has become a growing industry in Tibet in recent decades. The dominant religion in Tibet is Tibetan Buddhism, in addition there is Bön which was the indigenous religion of Tibet before the arrival of Buddhism in the 7th century AD (Bön is now similar to Tibetan Buddhism) though there are also Muslim and Christian minorities. Tibetan Buddhism is a primary influence on the art, music, and festivals of the region. Tibetan architecture reflects Chinese and Indian influences.

  1. Wisdom

    See Buddhist Philosophy
    Links: The Pineal Gland, Sun Gazing, DMT and Om, Chakras and the Human Energy System, Sacred Geometry, Philosophers, Top Ten Philosophers, Top Ten Asian Philosophers,
  2. Tibetan Book of the Dead

           The Liberation Through Hearing During The Intermediate State (Tibetan: bardo “liminality”; thodol as “liberation”), sometimes translated as Liberation Through Hearing or Bardo Thodol is a funerary text. It is often referred to in the West by the more casual title, Tibetan Book of the Dead, a name which draws a parallel with the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, another funerary text. The Tibetan text describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, during the interval between death and the next rebirth. This interval is known in Tibetan as the bardo. The text also includes chapters on the signs of death, and rituals to undertake when death is closing in, or has taken place. It is the most internationally famous and widespread work of Tibetan Nyingma literature.
    Links: Top 100 Books, Top Spiritual Texts,,
  3. Sacred Crown (1000-1200 AD)

           This is a gilded copper crown with turquoise, rock crystal, ruby and pearl inlays. It stands 33 cm and is part of the “Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World” exhibit.
    Links: Top Ten Crowns
  4. Vajrabhairava Mandala (1403-1424 AD)

           Chinese emperors lavished costly gifts on Tibetan high lamas. This one, made during the Ming dynasty, is fantastic both in its amazing detail, and also in its Buddhist subject. The upper part of the object unfolds, like a lotus blooming, to reveal the wrathful deity Vajrabhairava and his entourage. The figures are arranged to form a mandala, or mystic diagram of the universe, as envisioned by Buddhists. Chinese emperors exchanged gifts with Tibetan lamas to maintain cordial political relations and also to celebrate a shared religion, as many emperors practiced the Tibetan style of Buddhism.
    Links: Top 100 Mandalas,
  5. Skullcup (Kapala) (19th Century AD)

           A human skull rests on a mount of pure gold, embellished with turquoise. During a sacred ceremony, the elaborately decorated lid was removed and the skull – perhaps lined in gold – became a crucible. Inside, symbols of ordinary life were placed, heated, and transformed as part of an elaborate ritual enacted to help the initiates visualize the conversion of ordinary life and death into the path of enlightenment. This skull, given the elaborate mount of costly materials, undoubtedly belonged to a high-ranking lama, whose spiritual status lent special importance to this ritual object.
    Links: Top 100 Gold Artifacts, Top Ten Chalices/Cups, Top Ten Skulls, Top Ten Human Skulls,
  6. Chakrasamvara (1400 AD)

           This is a slit silk tapestry, which measures 143.2 cm by 93 cm.
    Links: Top Ten Thangkas, Top Ten Tapestries,
  7. Lolladoff Plate (7,000 BC)

           The Lolladoff plate, discovered in Nepal, appears to show a hovering disk-shaped object in the center and a small being, resembling an alien resembling an alien gray, beside it. The circular pattern is reminiscent of the spiraling movement of consciousness, Sacred Geometry of creation.
  8. Pearl Crown (18th Century AD)

           This pearl crown stands 19 cm and is part of the “Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World” exhibit.
    Links: Top Ten Crowns,
  9. Tibetan Armor

    Links: Top Ten Suits of Armor, Top Ten Helmets,,
  10. Vajravarahi (15th Century)

           This is a gilt copper figure depicting Vajravarahi. It stands 41.5 cm and is part of the “Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World” exhibit.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures,
  11. Statuette

  12. Ceremonial Dagger

    Links: Top Ten Daggers/Knives,
  13. The Buddha Shakyamuni (600-900 AD)

           This gilded copper figurine of Buddha Shakyamuni stands 28.5 cm and is part of the “Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World” exhibit.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures, Top Ten Buddha Statues,
  14. King Songtsen Gambo (13th Centrury)

           A rare surviving imperial portrait, made in the 13th century, this finely detailed sculpture honors the great Tibetan king, Songtsen Gambo, who in the 7th century, united Tibet into a large and influential Asian kingdom. Through his two marriages to Nepalese and Chinese princesses, he established Buddhism in Tibet. The small head that tops his headdress is that of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion and the patron deity of Tibet.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures,
  15. Bonus: Unidentified Four-armed Goddess (14th-15th Century AD)

           Originally from the Red Palace inside the Potala, this unidentified goddess sits in meditation on a lotus throne placed on a lion pedestal. She has two pairs of hands. The bottom pair is held in the gesture of meditation. The top pair is in the gesture of preaching (dharmachakra mudra), while also holding two stalks of lotus blossoms, supporting a conch (left) and a vase of immortality (right) at shoulder level. The goddess is bedecked with jewels, mainly inlaid turquoise. Her head is enclosed within a cloverleaf halo and the wavy scarves behind her arms add a sense of movement. In her elaborate ornament, jewel encrusted lower garment, and clover-shaped halo, this figure closely resembles a group of copper repoussé images from Densatil Monastery, a Kagyu establishment founded in the 12th century that was once located in central Tibet. During the 14th and 15th centuries, this region of Tibet was ruled by the Lang family, who generously patronized Densatil.
  16. Seal of the Fifth Dalai Lama (17th Century AD)

           Chinese, Manchu, and Tibetan inscriptions, carved into this official seal, express the international stature and importance of the Fifth Dalai Lama, the “Buddha of Great Compassion in the West and Leader of the Buddhist Faith beneath the Sky.” The Fifth Dalai Lama, also known as the Great Fifth, built the Potala Palace and served as both the secular ruler and spiritual teacher of Tibet, a dual role held by each subsequent Dalai Lama.
    Links: Top Ten Dalai Lamas,
  17. Long Horn Stand (17th-20th Century)

           The lords of the dance, shown here as lively skeletons, represent death and rebirth, life and death. They serve as reminders that life is impermanent, a central belief in Buddhism. This copper horn stand, with a crescent shape at the top, supported a long ceremonial horn.
  18. Tibetan Coin, Jaya Srinirasa Malla

    Links: Top 100 Coins, Top 100 Asian Coins,
  19. Ritual Conch Trumpet (1640 AD)

           This piece is made out of a conch shell with gilded silver. It is 79.2 cm in length and 21 cm wide and is part of the “Tibet: Treasures from the Roof of the World” exhibit.
    Links: Top Ten Historical Instruments, Top Ten Instruments,
  20. Crystal Stupa (18th Century)

           This stupa from the 18th century is made of crystal, gilt copper and turquoise measures 33.5 cm in height.
    Links: Top Ten Stupas,
  21. Bonus: Namchu Wangden: The Kalachakra Symbol (16th-17th Century)

           This is embroidered silk.
  22. Prayer Wheel (19th Century AD)

            The beauty of this prayer wheel – with its delicately carved decoration and slender ivory handle – suggests an important owner, most likely one of the Dalai Lamas. The gilt silver cylinder once held thousands of individual inscriptions, each a mantra written in the tiniest of letters. The mediator held the prayer wheel, and during countless rotations of the wheel, repeatedly changed the mantra. In this way, he sent out thousands of prayers, each calling for universal compassion for all living beings.
  23. Sacred Vessel (Kundika) (19th Century AD)

           This sacred vessel was constructed out of gold, turquoise and coral.
  24. Coral Mandala Offering Set (18th Century AD)

           This is a coral and gilt silver mandala offering set. It stands 21.5 cm tall and has a diameter of 16.5 cm.
    Links: Top 100 Mandalas,
  25. Set of Message Boards (1800-1900)

           This is a set of message boards made from painted and gilded wood.
  26. Bonus: Lock from the Potala Palace (1600-1700 AD)

           This is a gilded iron lock from the Potala Palace.
    Links: Top 100 Keys, Palaces, Top Ten Asian Palaces,
  27. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 Asian Artifacts,,

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