Portable Prayers Bhutan

Many Buddhists in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India use a prayer box pendant called a “Gau”. This particular intricate silver amulet ‘gau’ container is a personal charm box encased in a brocade covering. It contains prayers and small statues or relics. A gau was carried around the neck when traveling and used as a portable altar or as a shrine on an altar for a precious relic. The reliquary is often ornamented with eight auspicious symbols.


 Gau are made from silver, brass, copper, gold and other metals. Gau often have intricate designs, Auspicious Symbols and Mantras etched on their outer surface. Gau are sometimes studded with semi-precious gemstones believed to have various healing effects on the wearer. The most widespread Symbols are the Parasol, a Pair of Golden Fish, a Conch Shell, a Treasure Vase, a Lotus, an Infinite knot, the Victory Banner and the Wheel.

Gau in traditional life are also used as a portable shrine and are worn on a cord around the neck and hung close to the heart. Gau boxes open to a concealed inner space and might be used by Buddhists to hold a picture of their favorite Deity or Lama, a folded-up scroll of Sacred Mantras, special herbs or Sacred Relics. The Gau is used as an Amulet to help the wearer to ward off negative energy and attract blessings. 

Traveled home with me from Amankara Paro, Bhutan.