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Buddhist Amulets, Tsa Tsa

6 Jun

Buddhist Amulets – Tsa-tsa

Buddha Amulet - Tsa Tsa

Any traveller venturing into remote areas where Buddhism is practiced will certainly come across examples of clay tablets deposited within stupas, holy caves and monastery alters. These clay tablets are known as tsa-tsa and are believed to have originated in India. In Eastern India tsa-tsa dating from the 8th century have been found in Buddhist ruins.

Clay Tsa Tsa Buddha Amulets placed at sacred site.

Tsa-tsa are clay impressions made with a metal mold containing the hollowed, reversed image of a deity or sacred symbol. The stamped images are dried in the sun and in some cases fired into hardness. In many cases the amulets may be empowered by engraving a mantra on the back. The reverent method by which these amulets are produced ensures that each one is transformed into a receptacle for sacred power.

Tsa-tsa were traditionally created in connection with pilgrimages to sacred places. Travelers carried metal molds with them to sacred sites and upon arrival would collect holy clay to make the tablets reciting mantras while they worked. This activity was considered a meritorious action which generated an abundant dose of auspiciousness for the creator and his family. Sometimes a pilgrim would stay in a place for weeks pressing an auspicious number of amulets. Some of these would usually be left at the site as offerings. Others would be kept or shared as sacred objects.

Clay Tsa Tsa Buddha Amulets placed at sacred site

Tsa-tsa traditionally played an important role in funeral practices. After a person passed away a ceremony was performed which might have lasted several weeks. A lama would read from sacred text in front of an effigy of the deceased. At the conclusion of the readings the paper print representing the deceased would be burned in a final ceremony, mixed with clay and a number of tsa-tsa would be created by a relative or close friend. These amulets would have been deposited at the gates of a monastery or left under the ledges of a sacred site. Funeral tsa-tsa would not have been kept in the home.

Clay Buddha Tsa Tsa Amulet Pendant in Brass Setting

The use of tsa-tsa is not confined to areas of Tibetan influence only. In southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Burma tsa-tsa are extremely valued as amulets and often worn around the neck.

Clay Buddha Tsa Tsa Amulet Pendant

These amulets are still being produced in the traditional clay form as well as in cast metal. The clay amulets are often placed in cases or frames for protection.

I am not a Buddhist, but I wear a small amulet frequently.  The jewelry I personally wear is always simple and always has a spiritual element whether it is outwardly evident or not.  I’ll choose a stone that resonates with me, an antique piece whose history speaks to me, or an amulet such as these.  In our busy lives it is important to have something that reminds us to be grateful and to see the beauty in every person and every moment.


Parts of this post are extracted from “Juan Li: Images of Earth and Water, The Tsa Tsa Votive Tablets of Tibet

Fabergé – An Easter Tradition

28 Mar


The Fabergé family can be traced back to 17th century France.  Gustav Fabergé trained as a goldsmith apprenticing with the firm of Keibel, goldsmiths and jewelers to the Tsars.  In 1841 he earned the title of Master Goldsmith and the next year he opened his own retail jewelry shop. In 1882, at the age of 36, Gustav’s son Carl Fabergé was also awarded the title of Master Goldsmith and took over the running of the business.

In 1885, Tsar Alexander III commissioned the House of Fabergé to make an Easter egg as a gift for his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna. The “First Hen Egg” or “Jeweled Hen Egg” is a Tsar Imperial Fabergé Egg, the first in a series of fifty-four jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family.

Empress Maria was so delighted by this gift that Alexander appointed Fabergé a “goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown”. He commissioned another egg the following year. After that, Fabergé was given complete freedom for future Imperial Easter Eggs and from this date, the designs became more elaborate.  Not even the Tsar knew the designs in advance.  The only requirement was that each one should contain a surprise.


After losing everything when the House of Fabergé was nationalised by the Bolsheviks the family was forced to flee Russia during the Russian Revolution in 1917.  For a time they even lost all rights to produce and market designs under the Fabergé name.  In 2007 the company was purchased and the Fabergé brand was reunified with the the family and the brand is now forging a fresh and strong identity in tune with its original values, aesthetics and spirit.  Fabergé was re-launched on September 9, 2009 with Carl Fabergé’s great-grand-daughters helping to guide the way. On July 6, 2011 the company launched two collections of egg pendants.  These were the first to have been made by Fabergé since 1917.



Fabergé on Pinterest

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