Buddhist Ritual Objects


The articles in this section explore the form, function and symbolism of the rich variety of objects used in Buddhist ritual and symbolic art.


Buddha Images

Although not used in earliest Buddhism, the Buddha image has become one of the most popular Mahayana Buddhist ritual objects.

Buddhist Art

Buddhist art includes sculptures, paintings and other art forms that represent the stories and concepts of Buddhism. The earliest Buddhist art, which originated in India, was mostly symbolic and avoided figurative depictions of the Buddha...

Buddhist Begging Bowls

The simple begging bowl is one of the very few possessions of a Buddhist monk. It is used to collect alms and symbolizes the Buddha's teachings.

Buddhist Incense Burners

One of the most universal of Buddhist ritual vessels, incense burners are used in all Buddhist cultures and range from large pots to small censers.

Buddhist Monastic Robes

The garb of Buddhist monks varies from the simple saffron robes of Thailand to the elaborate robes and headdresses of Tibetan lamas.

Buddhist Skull Cups

The skull cup, normally made from a human skull, is an object used in Tibetan rituals and associated with wrathful deities in art.


A thangka ("flat painting") is a painted or embroidered banner hung in a monastery or a family altar and carried by lamas in ceremonial processions.

mala beads

Prayer beads, or mala beads, usually have 108 beads and are used both in Hinduism and Buddhism for counting mantras, chants or prayers.


A mandala is a sacred geometric figure that represents the universe and functions as a sacred area open to deities and forces.

prayer wheel

The Tibetan prayer wheel contains a roll of printed mantras; to spin the wheel is to release the prayers into the universe.

singing bowl

When rubbed with a wooden puja stick, a Tibetan singing bowl makes a resonant sound that assists in meditation and produces a calming effect.

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