Eight Auspicious Symbols

Symbols and art

The Eight Auspicious Symbols (Skt. ashtamangala) of Buddhism include the endless knot, the victory banner, the conch, the two fish, the wheel of the law, the emperor’s parasol, the treasure vase, and the lotus. Their origins reach back to ancient India where, in pre-Buddhist times, they are said to have been bestowed on a king at his coronation.

According to Buddhist belief, the eight treasures were handed to the Buddha after his awakening by the supreme gods Brahma and Indra and the earth goddess Bhudevi. The auspicious symbols are frequently represented in Chinese and Tibetan art.


Endless knot (Skt. shrivasta/granthi):

the knot stands for the Buddha’s infinite wisdom.


Victory banner (Skt. dhvaja):

the banner was originally used during military campaigns and bore the emblem of the Indian king. In Buddhism, the banner stands for victory over ignorance, desire, and death.


Conch (Skt. shanka):

Originally an attribute of Indian deities, the conch is a symbol of power. In Buddhism it evokes the sonorous voice of the Buddha and stands for the dissemination of his teaching.


Two fish (Skt. suvarnamatsya):

Fish symbolize freedom and fertility. In Buddhist understanding they signify the cycle of existences.


Wheel of the law (Skt. dharmachakra):

The wheel is an ancient symbol that signifies both change and continuity. In Buddhism it stands for the Buddha’s first teaching. In Vajrayana Buddhism the wheel also represents spiritual change.


Emperor’s parasol (Skt. chattra):

The parasol symbol dates back to ancient India where it ranked among the royal emblems. In Buddhism, it stands for protection against desire and suffering.


Treasure vase (Skt. nidhana kalasha):

The vase is filled with the nectar of ‘deathlessness’ or with countless jewels. In the traditional symbolism of ancient India, the vase was filled with water and stood for purity and fertility.


Lotus (Skt. padma):

The lotus is an ancient Indian water symbol and stands for purity. Its bud signifies the potential to become a buddha.