I first heard about this Tibetan Bead when we traveled in the Tibetan Autonomous Region years ago.
I have seen old ladies wearing traditional clothing and rich necklaces of Turquoise, but only a few of them wore this rare Dzi bead, and I almost never saw anyone wearing more than one bead on a necklace.
Back then, I did not take the time to learn more about the story of this Dzi bead (also spelled Dzee), so I didn’t know much until we arrived this time in Bhutan.
In a small jewelry shop, I found a few Dzi beads.
They were not the original Dzi, but an imitation made from dyed yak bone, set in silver.
We bought two of those Dzi beads, to wear as amulets.
We asked the jewelry maker to put them on a string so we can wear them around our necks.
In many places we visited around Bhutan, people pointed to our amulets and asked us if they were real….
We always said they were not, but that they are meaningful to us….
It was not until we were back in Thimphu that I found out more about Dzee beads.
I was sitting by the hotel’s main computer, downloading my camera cards into an external hard drive that I had brought with me to store all the many thousands of photos that we take during travel.
A few of the hotel’s employees sat next to me as I downloaded the photos.
They asked the regular questions of how I liked Bhutan, where was I from, and how long I was staying in Bhutan…..
And then they pointed to my necklaces and asked if I am a Buddhist…. And was my Dzi bead REAL……?
One of the guys was very forthcoming with information.
He told me that this bead originated in Tibet, thousands of years ago.
It is the oldest known jewelry.
For some people in Tibet, as well as in Bhutan, it is their ONLY daily treasure, being transferred from generation to generation.
One bead can hold the whole family fortune for hundreds of years.
The old Dzi beads are worth as much as $20,000 or more, based on how many “Eyes,” or rings, it has.
The mythical stories about Dzee beads are many.
in Bhutan, it is believed that these are mystical stones, made of the bones of a mythical and rare animal that is similar to an Otter.
They call the beads “Cat’s eye Dzi.”
Other mythical stories say that those beads are called the “Eyes of the gods,” and that those Dzee beads are actually petrified tears that fell from the eyes of the gods.
If you press, they will reluctantly say that the beads are probably made from Agate stone, or etched agate stones, but that this does not detract from the mysticism and power of these amulets.
One of the hotel employees inherited a real old Dzi from his family.
On my request, he brought it the next day to show to me.
The other employees told me that they came from the poor region of East Bhutan, and that they would never be able to afford a real Dzi.
Only landowners or people with connections to the royal line, can afford a real Dzi bead.
Crimes are committed by people trying to steal the precious Dzi.
In Bhutan, a person was stopped at the airport on charges of trying to smuggle fake dzees.
In 2005, eight men were arrested in Bhutan for illegally selling these precious stones across the border.
In 2008 a man was conned when he didn’t get the Nu 400,000 ($8000) promised for a two–eyed Dzee.
Nine men were arrested from Paro when they hunted for Dzees.
They were charged with vandalizing a stupa (a chorten) to get the precious Dzees that were the relics inside the stupa.
In a highly publicized 2007 case, a man from Punakha was murdered for his Dzees.
When the Dalai Lama escaped recently occupied Tibet along with a large group of Tibetans, they took with them precious stones and Dzees, in order to pay their way through, to exchange the Dzee for food, and to use as bribes.
Most Tibetans and Bhutanese cannot afford to buy old Dzees, so they buy real New Dzees.
If they did not inherit it from past generations, they buy a real agate Dzee, and take it on a pilgrimage to holy places, or to high Spiritual Lamas, and thus “Charge it” with power.
When you visit holy places, and places that have special meaning for you, you can charge your amulets with power from those holy places and from blessings.
These new Dzi amulets then serve as if they were old family treasures.
For Bhutanese people, for Tibetans and other Himalayan people, the Dzi is a “precious jewel of supernatural origin” with great powers to protect its wearer from harm.
In Tibet, the stories of the origin of the Dzee are different.
Some Tibetan people believe that Dzi beads are spiritual stones fallen from Heaven which have the power to alter the Karma of those who own them, and to bring them many blessings.
It is believed that the ancient Dzi’s absorb cosmic energy from the universe, and are not created by human hands.
In a few Tibetan temples, you can see Dzi beads adorning the most revered statues and sacred relics.
This is why when you visit those temples, you have to find the caretaker who holds the key to the temple.
Most of those temples are kept locked out of fear of robbery.
But they will be more than happy to open the temple for you to look, pray or meditate.
The Dzi amulets are believed to be so powerful that some Tibetan refugees claim that the Dzi protects them from knife or even bullet attacks.
Stories tell of lucky shepherds and farmers who found Dzees in the grasslands or while cultivating fields around Tibet, and also in neighboring Bhutan, Ladakh and Sikkim.
Some stories say that thousands of years ago, a meteor from Mars crashed into the Himalayas.
The elements of soil from the Meteor combined with agate stones to create the different types of Martian elements found in the Dzi beads.
It is believed that this is why you see “Star Eye Circles” inside the Dzi, and that those beads are charged with an extra strong magnetic field.
Those who believe in the healing powers of stones and amulets say the mystical powers of Dzi beads can enhance blood circulation and promote healthy metabolism.
They also can improve sleep, revitalize the body and balance its energy and magnetic fields.
It is believed that it can balance emotional energies that are stored in the visceral organs and move through the pathways or the meridians in the body.
When these energies or emotions are blocked, because of resentment, grievances, stress, trauma or disease, the five elements in the energetic body get imbalanced.
The five elements of the energetic body are Fire, Water, Earth, Metal and Wood.
It is believed that everything in the world is made up of a combination of these elements.
There is an undeniable interconnectivity between our bodies and the universe around us.
The whole Oriental philosophy of health and healing, is centered around restoring balance to the energetic body, as imbalances cause all diseases in the body and in the mental body as well.
It is believed that all of our internal organs are linked to some of the five elements.
The liver and the gall bladder are linked to the Wood element,
The small intestines and the heart are connected to the Fire element,
The spleen and the stomach to the Earth element,
The lungs and large intestine to the Metal element,
The kidneys and bladder to the Water element.
When an imbalance occurs, one must adjust his/ her habits, to restore balance and to allow our natural ability to heal to take place.
It is natural when we go through life, to fall out of balance, and we must be willing to adjust and to restore balance.
There are many myths and legends in Tibet and in Bhutan, describing the origin of the Dzee bead.
Among the many mythical stories, there is the belief that the Dzi were once insects that lived in a high nest called “Dzi Tshang” in Tibet.
It is believed that the insects became petrified in the form of the Dzi that exist today.
Another legend says that there was a time in ancient history when Tibet was overwhelmed by several epidemics, and the people faced famine and much hardship.
The compassionate form of the Buddha called Vajravarahi, offered help by releasing the magical Dzi Beads from the sky.
Since some Dzee beads were found in the fields or in mountains, so many stories sprouted up around that.
An employee at our hotel in Thimphu, told me a story about a man and his father who walked their horses up a steep narrow path.
Suddenly, the lead horse refused to go any farther.
The father and son urged the lead horse to continue, but the horse refused and ran away.
The father ran after the horse while the son continued up the path.
He saw a shimmering light glowing from an object on the ground.
He picked it up, and it was a Dzee bead.
The son knew nothing about the mythical Dzee beads from the gods, and he just threw it down and walked away…
The hotel employee (named Sonam Wangdee) said that the moral of the story is that a foolish man will always miss opportunities that are presented to him….
He will not recognize a real treasure, even if it shines and glows…
Sonam said that there is a saying in Bhutan, that foolish and unlucky people with bad Karma, will even melt iron or gold if they hold it in their hands…. It will just slip right through their fingers….