The eight auspicious symbols, or “Zha Xi Da Jie” in Tibetan language, are a group of choicest combined paintings, including Knot of Eternity, Dharma Wheel, Lotus Flower, Goldfish, White Conch, Precious Parasol, Treasure Vase, and Victory Banner, which are most common in Tibetan paintings and are imbued with profound connotations. Closely associated with Buddha and Buddhism, the symbols are unique Buddhism artworks, so they are also called Eight Buddhism Symbols.
The symbols appear mostly on murals, and are sometimes made into sculptures and other solid figures. And it is also very common to find them on daily necessities, costumes and jewelry of Tibetan people.
The knot of eternity represents the Buddha’s heart. It is filled with wisdom and symbolizes the mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs. Similarly, it represents the union of wisdom and method, the inseparability of emptiness and dependent arising at the time of path, and finally, at the time of enlightenment, the complete union of wisdom and great compassion.
The dharma wheel represents the Buddha’s feet. That means the Buddha always turns the dharma wheel. The golden wheel symbolizes the auspiciousness of the turning of the precious wheel of Buddha’s doctrine, both in its teachings and realizations, in all realms and at all times, enabling all beings to experience the joy of wholesome deeds and liberation.
The lotus flower represents the Buddha’s tongue. That means the Buddha speaks teachings with fluent and beautiful language. It symbolizes the complete purification of the defilements of the body, speech and mind, and the full blossoming of wholesome deeds in blissful liberation.
The eyes of the goldfish represent the Buddha’s eyes. Fish’s eyes are always open. The Buddha also always keeps eyes on all sentient beings and will never leave them. The goldfish symbolizes the auspiciousness of all living beings in a state of fearlessness, without danger of drowning in the ocean of sufferings, and migrating from place to place freely and spontaneously, just as fish swim freely without fear of water.
The white conch represents the Buddha’s voice. His Dharma is broadcast to all sentient beings. The white conch which coils to the right symbolizes the deep, far-reaching and melodious sound of the dharma teachings, which being appropriate to different natures, predispositions and aspirations of disciples, awakens them from the deep slumber of ignorance and urges them to accomplish their own and others’ welfare.
The precious parasol is like the Buddha’s head. It protects all sentient beings from afflictions and sufferings in the cyclic existence. The precious parasol symbolizes the wholesome activity of preserving beings from illness, harmful forces, obstacles and so forth in this life and all kinds of temporary and enduring sufferings of the three lower realms, and the realms of men and gods in future lives. It also represents the enjoyment of a feast of benefit under its cool shade.
Its shape is like the Buddha’s neck. The vase is filled with nectar, which represents the dharma spoken by the Buddha. It symbolizes an endless rain of long life, wealth and prosperity and all the benefits of this world and liberation.
The banner of victory represents the Buddha’s body. The Buddha’s dharma guides all sentient beings to attain enlightenment.