In the early centuries, Buddhist art symbolized the Buddha since during these times the statues were not used yet. These images represent the Buddha and his teachings, like the lotus, the Wheel of the Law, the Bodhi tree as well as the Buddha’s footprints. This is when the image of Buddha became the most popular portrayal in Buddhism.
These Buddhism symbols are very important especially in the Theravada Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand. The Buddhism in Tibet has developed the central symbols which are the Eight Auspicious Symbols or Sanskrit. These symbols are printed on the Tibetan prayer flags with mandalas and thangkas which are used in ritual arts.
The Eight Auspicious Buddhist Symbols.
- Conch shell. This is used in Tibetan Buddhism to call together religious assemblies. During these rituals, the conch shell is used both as a container for holy water and as a musical instrument.
- Lotus. The lotus is a recognized motif of Buddhism since every important deity is associated with it, whether it is seated upon or holding it in their hands.
- The wheel is a symbol of the Buddha’s teachings. It is also a Chakravartin or “wheel turner” emblem which is used to identify the wheel as the Dharmachakra or the “wheel of the law”.
- Parasol (Umbrella). This is traditional Indian symbol of protection and loyalty.
- Endless Knot. This is a symbol of the interaction of the opposing forces in both worlds leading to its union which results to harmony in the universe.
- Pair of Golden Fishes. In Buddhism, these two fishes is a symbol of happiness, fertility, and abundance.
- Banner Proclaiming Victory. This is an emblem of the enlightenment of Buddha which indicates that knowledge wins over ignorance.
- Treasure Vase. This is a symbol of storage of ideas and the contentment of material desires.
These eight symbols are used to embellish all religious and non religious Buddhist objects. The symbols are also drawn on the ground using sprinkled flour and colored powders for welcoming religious people who are visiting. The eight symbols are essential during Tibetan ceremonies since they believe that these Buddhist symbols will give them protection during these activities.