Mankind has utilized ritual objects since the beginning of time to symbolically influence physical events. In the Himalayan region Hindu and Vajrayana Buddhist liturgy use a wide array of accessories in their esoteric rituals. Shamanistic village spirit mediums also have a stock kit of necessary tools for connecting with the local mountain spirits. Many ritual objects also function as talisman or amulets invested with power to bestow good fortune and protect from negative phenomena when needed.

This animistic undercurrent in more orthodox religions is a fascinating subject.

Below are just a few esoteric ritual tools from the Himalayan region that exhibit this theme.


Tibetan Oracles used ritual mirrors called melong for divination.

In shamanic rapture they could gaze into the polished bronze melong and foretell future events.

Digpa Ratsa

Scorpion (digpa ratsa) amulets provided protection from hail storms and natural calamity in rural Tibet.

Village houses were often decorated with painted scorpions on the outside for protection.


Conch shells (turbinella pyrum) were traded throughout the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan plateau where they are used as ritual trumpets. In India and Nepal they are a Hindu ritual tool associated with Vishnu called Sanka. In Tibet they are called Dunkar, one of the ubiquitous Tashi Tah Gay or eight auspicious symbols from Tibetan Buddhism.


Carvings of myriad ritual implements, animals, deities and demons are skillfully rendered in miniature.

Intricately carved images of esoteric ritual objects, demonic spirits and Buddhist protectors were carved into wooden sticks called Zanpar (zan-spar). Tsampa (barley meal and yak butter dough) was pressed into the appropriate images to produce ritual sacrificial offerings (T. glud) for good fortune and protection from malevolent spirits that often create disorder.

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