Eight Auspicious Symbols

The Eight Auspicious Symbols represent good fortune and derive from Indian iconography where they were used in the coronation of a king and such. In buddhist legend, they were offered by the gods to Buddha Shakyamuni immediately after his enlightenment. These symbols appear in buddhist art on textiles, objects, and paintings. Each symbol represents an aspect of the Buddha and his teaching. When grouped together, their powers are multiplied.


1. Conch

In Buddhism a white conch that coils to the right symbolizes the renown of the Buddha’s teachings. Its melodious sound of Dharma reaches far and wide and accords with beings’ different natures, awakening them from the deep lumber of ignorance. It is used in ceremonies and to call together an assembly.

2. Dharma Wheel

The Dharma Wheel represents the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. In Buddhist legend, the Dharma Wheel was first turned when the Buddha gave his first teaching after his enlightenment. The circular form represents the perfection of his teachings and the eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path.

3. Golden Fish

The two golden fish symbolize fertility and abundance as they have many offspring. They also represent happiness in Buddhism, because those who follow the Buddha’s teachings are like fish who migrate freely in water without drowning; they have complete freedom and can freely choose their rebirth.

4. Knot

The infinite knot may have evolved from an ancient naga symbol with two intertwining snakes. It overlaps without a beginning or an end, symbolizing the Buddha's infinite wisdom. The intertwining of lines represents how all things are interconnected together as a closed cycle of cause and effect.

5. Lotus Flower

The lotus flower symbolizes purity and enlightenment. In nature, the lotus rises above the mud and blooms in beauty and purity. It represents the true nature of living beings who rise above the world of desire into the beauty and clarity of Buddhahood. The color of the lotus represents one’s spiritual attainment.

6. Parasol

The parasol is a symbol of royalty and protection. When the Buddha was a prince, servants held a parasol over him as protection from the sun, dust and rain. In addition, it represents protection from suffering. The dome of the parasol represents wisdom and the skirt around the dome represents compassion.

7. Treasure Vase

The treasure vase is a symbol of long life and spiritual abundance. It represents the teachings of the Buddha, which are like an inexhaustible treasure that is never empty no matter how many teachings are given to others. It also symbolizes the completion of spiritual aspirations.

8. Victory Banner

The victory banner, made of a cylinder of cloth or beaten copper, is placed at the four corners of a monastery and temple roofs. It signifies the Buddha's victory over Mara and what Mara signifies--passion, fear of death, pride and lust. In general, it represents the Buddha’s teachings and wisdom over ignorance.

Eight Auspicious Buddist Symbols

Images by Christopher J. Fynn

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