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Peacock umbrella

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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In Tibet, depending on their status, various dignitaries were entitled to different parasols, with religious heads being entitled to a silk one and secular rulers to a parasol with embroidered peacock feathers.

Exalted personalities such as the Dalai Lama are entitled to both, and in processions, first a peacock parasol and then a silk one is carried after him.

The Tibetan version of the parasol was adopted from its royal Indian and Chinese prototypes, and fashioned from a wooden, spoked frame with a domed silk cover and hanging silk pendants making up an overhanging skirt.

The dome symbolizes wisdom, and the hanging skirt, compassion.

Thus the composite form of the parasol signifies the union of these dual elements.

Octagonal and square parasols are also common, representing the Noble Eightfold Path and the four directional quarters respectively.