The Dorothy Methvin McClatchey Collection

Portable Shrine

Portable Shrine

Tibet Autonomous Region, China
1994.34.150
Late 19th - Early 20th Century

Portable shrines and charm boxes are important items worn by Buddhists living in Tibet and other central Asian countries. These items contain written prayers, small images or other special amuletic items that are designed to protect the individual from evil spirits. Tibetan men often wear these large boxes or shrines strapped to their bodies, especially when traveling. This shrine is made of silver and copper and decorated with beautiful repoussé work. The front of the ornamental box is decorated with the eight auspicious symbols identified in the Buddhist faith: golden fish, dharma wheel, lotus flower, right-coiled conch, vase of treasure, precious parasol, endless knot and victory banner. Each of these signs symbolizes some aspect of Buddhist thought.