Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Svastika - Yungdrung Main Page

Abstract Concepts Glossary

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Buddhist Svastika
- Bon Svastika
- Masterworks
- Confusions: Buddhist
- Others...

- Bon Yungdrung
- Svastika Confusions (Buddhist)
- A Question on the Use of Svastika in Himalayan Art

Svastika (Sanskrit Language, sva + asti, auspicious)
Yungdrung (Tibetan/Zhangzhung Language, ever-lasting)

In the Buddhism of the Himalayas, Tibet and Mongolia the svastika is used essentially as a decorative element. In China it is common to find a svastika drawn or etched as an outline over the heart of a Buddha figure, painting or sculpture.

The svastika is also a common symbol used in Indian magic in general and in many of the various Hindu and Tantric Buddhist traditions. In these traditions letters or words are also added to the legs, or between the legs, of the svastika and often indicate the use of the particular magical device. The svastika is generally drawn on paper or cloth, sometimes directly onto the ground, or at the entrance to a building. Magical devices such as this are often known as 'yantra diagrams.'

A common confusion that can arise when identifying the yungdrung is mistaking the bliss whorl used in Tantric imagery. The bliss whorl is a spiral shaped circle or disc that typically has four or three legs, envisioned as a flat disc-like shape. It can also be found with two legs but in that configuration it is unlikely to be confused with a yungdrung.

Additional Uses:
- Initiation Cards & Ritual Visualization Practice (Buddhist, Bon)
- Hand Attribute (Bon teachers & deities, painting & sculpture)
- Double Svastika Scepter (Bon)
- Eastern Direction of a Mandala (Bon)
- Yantra Diagrams (Buddhist)
- Hat Symbol Decoration (Bon)
- Throne Front Cloth (Buddhist)
- Petroglyphs & Pictographs (West Tibet)
- Carpet Design (Buddhist)
- Carved Wood Design on thrones, etc.
- Door & House Decoration
- Marking the base of sculpture - Bon (metal, wood, clay, etc.)
- Marking Bon Monasteries & Sites on 19th & 20th century maps
- Others...

Jeff Watt 3-2007 [updated 5-2013, 5-2017, 2-2020]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).