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8 Ways to Bring In Peace & Calm

For those in search of calm and contemplation, China, Japan and other Asian nations are wonderful sources. Objects are filled with the iconography of peace. Many Chinese symbols are visual puns. Vase (ping 瓶) and peace (pingan 平安) are homonyms; crab (蟹) and harmony (协) share the xie sound. The phoenix and the Buddha are ancient emblems of peace, which, as the proverb says, “is a thousand gold pieces.” At our gallery in Chicago, PAGODA RED has been providing objects and experiences of peace for 20+ years;  here are 8 ways to give and get it.

1. For Serenity: Tibetan Singing Bowls

Originally used for meditation, this Tibetan singing bowl was hand-formed from eight mixed metals including copper, tin, iron, lead, zinc, gold, silver and mercury. The eight metal alloy together produces a deep, rich sound when a wooden stick circulates around the rim of the bowl. Buddhist monks incorporate this sound into healing and meditation practice.


2. For Clarity: Tibetan Meditation Carpets

This Tibetan carpet dates to the turn-of-the-century and designates a sacred space for meditation. Known as a khagangma or a temple carpet, the square seat focuses one’s thoughts and protects from negative energies. At the center of the carpet is a floral medallion or mandala, a visual metaphor for Buddhist notions of the universe and eternity. The medallion is enclosed by a simple meander and a pattern of swirling clouds, a variation of the ancient thunder pattern (Lei wen) believed to signify happiness and longevity.


3. For Nirvana: Tibetan Thangkas

Buddhist practitioners strive for nirvana, a state in which they no longer yearn for earthly desires or temptations. In this stunningly detailed Tibetan thangka painting, we see the Chenresi, the Buddha of Infinite Compassion and the embodiment of mercy, seated in diamond position upon a lotus throne. With enlightened consciousness and boundless compassion, Chenresi offers guidance to all those that call upon him with their mind.


4. For Flow: Artworks by Xie Dong

This “Shui” Porcelain Vase is the poetic result of capturing all that is flowing, floating, weightless, and shapeless in the air and revealing its ethereal state through sculpture. Modern Chinese artist Xie Dong has the uncanny ability to link ancient bone china craftsmanship with re-imagined contemporary forms.


5. For Contemplation: Buddha Figures

Each pose and mudra of the Buddha conveys a different meaning, but all invite contemplation. This 19th-century Thai Gilt Bronze Buddha is seated in vajrasana with hands in the bhumisparsha mudra, a gesture representing the moment that the Buddha claimed the earth as witness to his awakening.


6. For Inspiration: Meditation Stones

Following the marbled coloring and natural veins of these one-of-a-kind stones can be deeply meditative. Scholars in ancient China decorated their studios or gardens with stones like this. The natural beauty of the rock was said to help focus the mind while composing poetry, painting landscapes, or writing calligraphy.

7. For Harmony: An Expression of Devotion

This mesmerizing painting is the result of months of dedicated work. Thousands of careful brushstrokes surround the central image of the Tibetan Buddha Akshobhyavajra, a focal point within a gradient of concentric circles. Liu Yi, a Beijing-based painter and practicing Buddhist, paints each of his contemporary mandalas as a meditation. With meticulous detail, he combines traditional Tibetan thangka icons with contemporary painting techniques and color. Liu Yi signed his name on the back, not the front, so as not to detract from the contemplation this work inspires.


8. For Peace & Prosperity: Phoenixes

Painted with a “sang-de-boeuf” field and phoenix and peonies, these symbols offer a blessing of peace and benevolence. The phoenix, known as “the king of birds” in Chinese mythology, only appears in times of calm and prosperity.

For more gifts of peace, see the PAGODA RED Gift Guide.

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