30 mars 2007


Originally made of dough (in Tibet, roasted barley flour is used,) and also sculpted from butter, they have evolved into elaborately decorated objects. Since making them is time-consuming and uses resources, people have begun to use clay, wood and more recently, synthetic substances. These include resin modeling products, and at least one Asian company produces small, injection-molded plastic tormas.

Each torma - which at one time (pre-Buddhism, naturally,) may have been a substitute for a living being - has specific characteristics that depend upon the deity to whom it is offered. However, a torma has three fundamental elements: foundation, body, and decoration that symbolize respectively the qualities of body, speech, and mind.

The energies of these qualities are represented by two or three small, rather flat, discs applied to the front of the conical body. Usually they are in the form of flowers; the rims can be pressed to create the scalloped effect of petals.

Finally, one or more dabs of coloured butter known as gyab gyen are sometimes pressed onto the "back" (Tib. gyab) of the torma. This action dedicates the offering:

. . . 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

A torma of elaborate design may be decorative, but it is not as important as the action of generosity which it represents. The colours reflect the nature of the deity to which it is being offered, and can also correspond to traditional yogic principles.

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