The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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A hole was sometimes made in the end of the shell of this creature so that it could be blown as a kind of trumpet.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the conch shell is blown from the rooftops of monasteries to gather monks together and announce religious assemblies. During the exercise of rituals, it is used as a musical instrument and as a means to contain holy water. In addition, conch shell horns are blown as a sound offering to the universe. When the conch shell is placed on top of an altar it functions as a symbolic reminder of the great Buddha and his teachings.
Shells that spiral to the right in a clockwise manner are rare and considered to be especially sacred. The right-spiraling conch is believed to symbolize the motion of the sun, moon, planets and stars. The hair on Buddha's head and body was said to have spiraled to the right. This was seen as one of the many manifestations of Buddhas deep connection to the universe.
The thick, dense shell can be polished to an unusually pure, shiny white. This made it a symbol of purity, goodness and perfection The Buddha described the life of the virtuous, disciplined monk a being `perfectly clean, perfectly pure and polished like a conch shell.' (A.V,204; D.I,63).
To have three wrinkles on the neck like the lines of the spiral on a conch was considered a sign of beauty (Ja.V,155; IV,130) and shells spiraling to the right, which are extremely rare, were considered particularly auspicious (Ja.IV,350).
In time, the conch came to be considered, not just beautiful, but also sacred. During coronation ceremonies water from three conch shells was sprinkled on the monarch's head (Ja.II,409; IV,493) and they were and still are widely used in Hindu,