The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
|Articles by alphabetic order|
Torma (Skt.: bali)
|Please consider making little donation to help us expand the encyclopedia Donate Enjoy your readings here and have a wonderful day|
Although a torma has specific characteristics that depend upon the deity to whom it is being offered, all tormas have three fundamental elements to their construction: foundation, body, and decoration.
The energies of these qualities are represented by two or three small, rather flat, discs applied to the front of the conical body.
. . . it seals the torma offering so that its essence won't be lost or stolen before you get a chance to offer it. I've also heard that it's a gesture, as if you were saying, "thus, I offer." ~ ani Yeshe Wangmo
It takes a large snowball-sized ball of dough to make one that is in the small range with a three-inch diameter base.
Since the bala or torma is intended for a deity, we take care to keep its ingredients pure, and the surface on which we are working clean. The hands must be washed and the maker should avoid breathing on the project.
Any bits that fall to the floor are unusable and must be discarded.
The ingredients to make sixteen six-inch tormas are as follows.
First, bring the water to boil. Next, add the butter.
Then add flour. Stir and let boil for three to five minutes.
Mix, then let it sit to cool a little. It should be just sticky enough to be easily kneaded.
The dough (which may still be hot -- be careful) is removed from the pot and placed on the clean surface where it is kneaded until it is uniformly soft and smooth.
(If it sticks too much, dust your hands and/or the surface with flour.)
If they show signs of age -- bits falling off, etc. -- then they need to be repaired or replaced. Tormas made of food are never tossed in the garbage but are left outside in a clean place for birds and other animals to enjoy.
They used to be made only where conditions were cool enough for them to survive for a while without melting.
Nowadays, the butter or margarine is mixed with candle wax before colouring is added.
The sculpted forms are often displayed on bats [wooden boards] that have been gold-leafed.
In Lhasa, for the Losar new year celebration 's Butter Lamp Festival on the 15th of the first Tibetan month, all sorts of fantastic figures are made for display alongside the lamps that traditionally use butter as fuel.
On the top was a big skull from which flames are issued. Many ribbons or strings are tied to the top of the tripod.