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Title: Namkha  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mandala, Bon, Weaving (mythology), Endless knot, Ashtamangala, Aether (mythology), Prayer flag, Yantra, Ngagpa, God's eye
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Namkha (Tibetan: ནམ་མཁའ་ nam mkha' [1] "sky", "space", "aether"," heaven"), also known as De; (Tibetan mdos (མདོས) [2]) is a form of yarn or thread cross composed traditionally of wool or silk and is a form of the Endless knot of the Eight Auspicious Symbols (Ashtamangala). In certain tantric rituals, the Namkha becomes a pure land abode of a deity while in other rites it may act as a snare for demons. Tradition holds that it was for this latter purpose that a namkha was used by Padmasambhava after his Vajrakilaya Dance during he consecration of Samye monastery during the first importation of Buddhism to Tibet. (Pearlman, 2002: p. 18).[3] Weavings of a similar nature are called "God's eye" in English folk art.

In the Bön and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions, a namkha is constructed as the temporary dwelling for a deity during ritual practice. The structure of the namkha is traditionally made with colored threads symbolic of the elements (blue, green, red, white, and yellow; space, air, fire, water, and earth respectively ), the sequence, and the shape of the namkha differing for each particular deity or yidam. The namkha is placed on the practitioner's altar or shrine and an image of the deity may be placed beneath. The namkha is often accompanied in rites and ritual workings with the tantric and shamanic tool, the phurba. Pearlman (2002: p. 18) states how Padmasambhava consecrated the land for the building of Samye Monastery by the enactment of the rite of the Vajrakilaya dance which employed namkha to capture malevolent spirits and thoughtforms.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche comments: "These threads symbolise the ‘thread’ that is the literal meaning of the word ‘tantra’ and describe the manner in which each point in time and space is the warp and weft of the loom of experiential / existential emptiness."[4]

See also


  1. ^ Staff. "'"nam mkha. RangjungYesheWiki. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  2. ^ Staff. "mdos". RangjungYesheWiki. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  3. ^ Source: [1] (accessed: )
  4. ^ Staff (2005). "Aro encyclopaedia: Namkha Burning: Apprentice Retreat, 2005". Aro. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 


  • Beer, Robert (1999). The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs (Hardcover). Shambhala Publications. ISBN 1-57062-416-X
  • Beyer, Stephen (1978). The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet, University of California Press.
  • Gold, Peter (1994). Navajo & Tibetan sacred wisdom: the circle of the spirit. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International. ISBN . 
  • Müller-Ebeling, Claudia and Christian Rätsch and Surendra Bahadur Shahi (2002). Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas. Transl. by Annabel Lee. Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions International.
  • Nebesky-Wojkowitz, Rene de. Oracles and Demons of Tibet, pgs 369-397. ISBN 81-7303-039-1
  • Nebesky-Wojkowitz, Rene de (1976). Tibetan Religious Dances. The Hague: Mouton.
  • Pearlman, Ellen (2002). Tibetan Sacred Dance: a journey into the religious and folk traditions. Rochester, Vermont, USA: Inner Traditions. ISBN 0-89281-918-0
  • Tsogyel, Yeshe. The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, 2 vols., trans. Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1978)
  • Tucci, Giuseppe (1980). The Religions of Tibet, translated by Geoffrey Samuel. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
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