Photo of Tsa Tsa on a Stupa in Bhutan

Photo of Tsa Tsa on a Stupa in Bhutan

Tsa tsa are memorials to the dead, molded by monks, that are created from ash collected from funereal cremation pyres. They are considered sacred objects and molded in special religious ceremonies. As soon we arrived in Bhutan, I started noticing all the tsa tsas, the curious small cylindrical cone shaped objects on stupas, under overhangs of rock and alongside many roadways. Any sacred or remotely scenic place that was at least partially sheltered from the elements seemed to have hundreds, if not thousands of these three-inch high sculptures. Some were painted gold, others were painted red, but mostly they were either white or natural earth tone. I was fascinated by them and ask Norbu, our guide, what we were seeing he explained the significance of a tsa tsa.

 

Photo of Tsa Tsa Hidden in a Cave in Bhutan

Photo of Tsa Tsa Hidden in a Cave in Bhutan

He explained that the artifacts, usually 108 of them (a sacred number in ancient Hinduism and carried forward into Buddhism), are commissioned by bereaved Buddhist families as a way of honoring and bidding farewell to their loved ones. After they are created the memorials are given to the families to be placed in sacred places, beautiful places or places that were special to the departed loved one.

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I think this would be a fitting memorial for me after I retire permanently.

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