Inventory no.: 4757

Tibetan Silver Prayer Wheel


Silver & Ivory Prayer Wheel (‘Khor)


19th century

length: 24cm, weight: 178g

This Tibetan prayer wheel comprises a ‘wheel’ with a hammered sheet silver top, underside and handle mounts; a casing for the mantra parchment; the coiled mantra parchment itself; a wooden handle; and a heavy silver octagonal hedron weight, attached to the wheel by the original leather strap.

The domed top cover of the wheel is surmounted by a silver lotus-bud finial.

The interior of the head contains the original parchment on which Tibetan Buddhist mantras are printed. The parchment clearly is long and tightly wound.

Tibetans use mantras in many ways. They are used to invoke energies for ritual or magical purposes.

Om mani padme hum is the best known example of a Tibetan mantra but there are many others. Mantras only work if learned and uttered ‘properly’ (Rawson, 1991, p. 78.) Reciting mantras can even affect one’s karma. The more often mantras can be recited, the greater their benefit. Mantras might be written on flags so that the mantra is deemed to have been ‘said’ as the wind blows through or past it. Another way to be deemed to have recited a mantra without actually having said it, is to turn a prayer wheel which either has the mantra emblazoned on its outside or written on parchment on the inside, so that each turn of the wheel is equivalent to one recital of the mantra. Consequently, many Tibetans endlessly turned prayer wheels.

This example would have been for everyday use but probably by a noble or someone from a wealthier family given the luxury material from which it is made.

The prayer wheel has ample signs of age and use. A 19th century date has been assigned; it might be earlier. It is in fine condition without losses or repairs.


Rawson, P., Sacred Tibet, Thames & Hudson, 1991.


UK art market

Inventory no.: 4757