Diameter: 11.000 cm
Gift of Johannes Nikolaus Schmitt and Mareta Meade
Asia OA 1992.12-14.19
Room 33: Asia
19th century AD
Used to repeat prayers on pilgrimage
This prayer-wheel has a large silver drum with a weight on a chain attached on a long wooden handle. The Eight Auspicious Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism are used to decorate the silver case: the lotus, conch, knot, vase, parasols, wheels, fishes and banner. Mantras (prayers) in the lan 'tsha script complete the design.
A prayer wheel is a device for repeating the mantras, which are written on the outside and contained inside the drum on slips of paper. The drum rotates clockwise on the wooden handle, the weight on the chain helping it to spin. Rotating the drum, according to traditional understanding, automatically repeats the prayer, which is almost always 'Om Mani Padme Hum'.
mantras are written on
mani stones which are
left in the Tibetan countryside as offerings. Similarly, prayers
are written on flags that flutter in the wind at
R. Fisher, Art of Tibet (Thames and Hudson, 1997)