The Six Longevities
The blessing of long life is
represented by six separate symbols. They are found all
over the country, often painted on the walls of houses
or directly beside the door.
The first symbol, the Old Man,
stands for survival. He is making a water offering to
allow the the repaying of karmic debts that he owes. The
water itself is also a symbol, representing nourishment.
Nearby, a tree stands for growth and prosperity, having
grown from a stream of immortality. This stream falls
continually from a rock, which symbolizes stability.
A family of deer in the picture
are very old, representing peace and harmony and eating
the sacrificial balls offered by the old man. Finally,
the Bird signifies freedom, and it has achieved
immortality by eating from the tree.
The Four Power Animals
The tiger, the snow lion, the
mythical eagle (jachung), and the thunder dragon are the
four power animals. They are said to personify mind,
strength, wisdom, and voice. This foursome (called
ta-seng-kyung druk) represents those qualities which
should be shown by a spiritual hero. The tiger, for
example, symbolizes the power that comes from being
meek. Although it is a deadly hunter, it creeps through
the jungle silently with unlimited energy. The snow
lion, on the other hand, stands for a joyful and
energized mind. The eagle represents a mind and energy
that have transcended reality. Lastly, the dragon is a
terrifying beast, both helpful and uncontrollable. It
creates the thunder storms that water the crops and the
floods that sometime destroy man's work.
Together, these four animals are
thought to bring courage, good luck, wealth, and
healing. They are symbolized throughout Bhutan on prayer
flags, surrounding a symbolic wind horse that carries
prayers off to heaven.