Bhutans religion | Buddhism | The Buddhist ritual | The thread cross

The thread cross

Together with the torma, a cross of colourful thread is used. It is called dö and was supposedly introduced by Guru Rinpoche. Two pieces of wood are bound together in the shape of a cross and are covered by a net of colourful thread. Some are made very simply, but others can be of a very complicated design, and up to a few meters in size. They symbolise a palace of the deities and its surroundings and represent heraldic beasts and objects which belong to the deity.

After days of praying, they are destroyed and thrown out together with ransom gifts, usually represented by the picture of a person. In other words, all evil and ill of a person or community is transferred onto these objects and then disposed of.

In a different, seemingly contradictory usage, they are put up in front of cult sites, entries of temples and houses or at religious dances with the idea of keeping off forces or evil spirits who are hostile toward the religion and who should get caught in them just like in a spider's web.

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Thread cross (dö, namkha), wood, woollen thread; measurements 43 cm x 26 cm; loan from a private collection
Thread crosses offer residences for deities in »heavenly palaces«.