Amulet Trail: Gau, Tibet

PRM 1991.17.39

This turquoise-encrusted silver box ('gau') was worn around the neck and would contain sacred substances or prayers and mantras written on paper. A gau might be round, square or door-shaped, and made of beaten bronze or silver, studded with gems. All classes of Tibetan people wore protective amulets, rich and poor alike. Among the simplest were woven textile pouches attached to a cord necklace.

1998.157.87Wife of Tendong Dzongpon, Governor of Gyantse, Tibet.
She wears a gau amulet at her neck and other jewellery of turquoise, jade, pearls, coral and gold.
Photo by Frederick Spencer Chapman, 1936-37. PRM 1998.157.87

Artisans of Memory

Behind the scenes of an amulets project

This series of short films follows the progress and practices of those connected with the Small Blessings project as they unravel the stories surrounding these curious objects.

The full series of films may be viewed here.


Amulets Competition

The competition is now closed and a winner has been announced. Find out more here.

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