Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Miscellaneous - Hand Prayer Wheel

པར་ཤིང་སྣང་བརྙན། སྣ་ཚོགས། 版画 (多种)
(item no. 101503)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Buddhist
Material Silver
Collection Private
Catalogue # Tibet Museum, Lhasa
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Object/Concept

Interpretation / Description

The prayer wheel, a popular device in Tibet and across the Himalayas, was originally intended for the Naga world, where the serpent-like creatures were too lazy to engage in meritorious acts. A coil of mantras (mind-protecting spells associated with an enlightened deity), often hundreds of thousands, printed from woodblocks on long sheets of paper, are rolled and placed within the cylinder. An individual spins the wheel, using the lead weight on the end of the chain to accelerate and sustain the spinning. Prayer wheels come in all sizes, some hand-held; others designed for tabletop or other stationary use. The hand-held prayer wheel, crafted of silver with partial gilding, clearly belonged to a person of high rank. Due to years of handling, the ivory handle has developed a warm patina. The body of the wheel is inscribed with sacred syllables of the All-seeing Lord (Avalokiteshvara). (Text courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art).

Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Tibet, Treasures from the Roof of the World

Thematic Sets
Sculpture: Miscellaneous
Ritual Object: Prayer Wheel