ethnic jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

A gau showing the Tree of Life

A large square Tibetan gau dating back to the nineteenth century. Made of silver... the face is covered with fine filigree in the form of a mandala with a representation of the Tree of Life at the centre. A round turquoise cabochon marks the centre of the Tree of Life and eight coral beads are placed diametrically at the corners. Dimensions:13 x 13cms. Weight:365g.

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Comment by Michael Beste on September 20, 2016 at 9:33

Hi Thelma,

what a beautiful piece!

Another interpretation of the design might be it shows a mandala with the four corners and the Tree of Live (axis mundi) in the centre



Comment by Joost Daalder on September 19, 2016 at 17:02

Hi Thelma: - Lynn Levenberg is the person to ask, as she is fully specialising in Tibet, with a view to writing a book about it too. She is curating a collection for a private client. You can find her on this site, and I am sure that she'd write back. Best wishes! - Joost

Comment by Thelma on September 19, 2016 at 13:19

Thanks, Joost, for the comments. As usual, I know very little of its background except that it once belonged to a collection in America. I was hoping that one of our Tibetan experts would be able to provide more information about its Tibetan background.

Comment by Joost Daalder on September 16, 2016 at 8:19

An exceptionally beautiful gau (or "ga'u"), Thelma. Teh decoration is not only wonderfully refined, but also interestingly varied, and remarkably elegant and "airy" in the centre. Great caption, too!

Comment by Betty on September 12, 2016 at 9:19
Very beautiful Thelma, I know next to nothing about gaus and the symbolism hidden in their intricate decoration. Many thanks for sharing the wonderful picture and the interesting information.
Comment by Toya on September 11, 2016 at 15:34

Beautiful design. I love the muted colors. Congratulations.

Comment by Peter Hoesli on September 11, 2016 at 5:57
This is a very fine example Thelma! Congratulations. Peter
Comment by Thelma on September 10, 2016 at 18:23

This gau is designed to be worn across the body and is intended as a place of safekeeping for prayers, mantras, pictures of lamas and deities, medicinal herbs, relics etc. The back is tied on with a piece of string made of silk, a part of which can be seen in the picture.


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