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The term Buddhist jewelry is a non-official way of describing any piece of jewelry that has Buddhist connotations. This can materialize in the form of Buddhist symbols or designs.
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate Buddhist jewelry. Anyone can wear a necklace with a lotus symbol or a mala bracelet. However, knowing the symbolism behind the jewelry will give more meaning to the piece.
Symbols of Buddhism Used in Jewelry
There are many symbols that are commonly used in necklaces, bracelets and rings to inspire you in leading a better life. Here are some of the most commonplace Buddhist symbols:
1. Image of the Buddha
The most popular symbol of Buddhism today is that of the Lord Buddha, but this was not always so. Gautama Buddha was a mortal human being and did not want to be worshipped as a god. As a result, the image of the Buddha was not used in the early years of Buddhism as a symbol of the religion.
Wearing the image of the Buddha in jewelry is a way to remind yourself to be inspired by the life of the Buddha and the principles that he stood for – kindness, compassion, peace, moderation and non-violence.
The Buddha is commonly depicted as sitting in deep meditation. Choose from just the head and hands or a whole-body image.
2. Lotus Flower
The lotus is a popular Buddhist symbol. What makes a lotus so special? It is one of those rare flowers that grow in muddy waters but rises out to bloom in colorful beauty, above the mud in which it is rooted.
The symbol of the lotus reminds us to take the higher road, regardless of what may be happening around us. It is a symbol of mental purity and elevation. On a practical point, it is a reminder to be kind, compassionate, peaceful and loving even though life may be difficult and full of suffering. It is also a symbol of rising above materialism into a more spiritual, philosophical mental state.
Lotus flowers are often found as pendants, bracelet charms or earrings. These are beautifully symmetrical and come in varying designs.
3. Dharma Wheel
The Dharma Wheel is also called the Dharmachakra and is a central image in Buddhism. It is somewhat similar in appearance to a ship’s wheel.
The Dharma Wheel is full of Buddhist symbolism, representing the Buddha himself, the cycle of Samsara (the never-ending cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth) as well as the principle tenets of his teaching.
The 8 wheels of the Dharma Wheel represent the Noble Eight-fold Path that the Buddha highlighted as the path to follow in leading a virtuous and righteous life.
The Dharma Wheel is a reminder of the basic principles of Buddhism and is a beautiful symbol to wear in jewelry.
4. Leaf of the Bodhi Tree (Ficus Religiosa)
The Ficus Religiosa is known by a number of different names, including Bo Tree, Bodhi Tree, Peepal Tree and so on. It is considered sacred because it was while sitting beneath a Bodhi tree that the Buddha attained enlightenment.
The Bodhi leaf is an easily recognizable round leaf with a long point at the end, somewhat like a heart. It is a symbol of awakening spiritually and the attainment of wisdom. It makes for a beautiful pair of earrings, bracelet or pendant.
5. Endless Knot
Known as the Endless Knot, Eternal Knot and the Tibetan Knot, this pattern is made of a combination of lines and symbols representing the concept that a mind has neither beginning nor end. This representation of eternity reminds us of the eternal nature of time.
One of the main Buddhist concepts is that there is no beginning and no end, and that the mind exists in a continuum of eternity. The Eternal Knot encompasses this concept perfectly.
6. Tree of Life
The tree of life is a universal symbol that holds a special place in most cultures, including Islam, Celtic culture, Christianity, and Buddhism.
In Buddhist tradition, the tree of life is representative of the Bodhi tree. This has always been revered, as it was under this tree that the Buddha attained enlightenment.
The Bo tree represents the path to enlightenment and as such, is symbolic of life. The tree of life is also symbolic of growth, fertility, rebirth, immortality, and balance, among other things.
The Enso, a popular symbol of Buddhism and Japanese calligraphy, is made with a single brushstroke that creates an unclosed circle. It’s also called the Infinity Circle, Japanese Circle, Zen Circle or the Circle of Enlightenment.
The circle can be either open or closed, with both styles representing different thing. Drawing an Enso is a precise art that has to be done in one fluid stroke. Once drawn, the symbol can’t be altered in anyway.
The enso represents life’s harmony and simplicity. Also, it refers to the idea of eternity, perfection, unlimited strength, enlightenment, and internal balance.
Why Wear Buddhist Jewelry?
Buddhism does not support materialism and worldliness, so why wear Buddhist jewelry? Is not being attached to a piece of jewelry going against the very essence of Buddhism?
It all comes down to why we wear the piece in the first place. For many, wearing a religious symbol acts as a reminder of following the tenets of the religion. With Buddhist jewelry, it helps you to be mindful and to practice mindfulness.
As your piece of jewelry ages and begins to wear and tear, that’s a reminder of impermanence. As it ages, you know that it isn’t as beautiful as it once was and that you will have to replace it eventually. These are facts of life and even a small item of jewelry can symbolize those facts.
The important factor is to not be attached to the piece of jewelry itself but rather to focus on it’s symbolism.
Buddhism holds concepts that are meaningful and universal in their application, and these are represented by various symbols which can be crafted into jewelry. If you aren’t a Buddhist, these symbolic and beautiful designs can still be respected and cherished.