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dbu rgyan

Tibetan. ‘Crown’ or ‘head ornament’. Name for the Buddhist Ritual Crown, i.e. a ritual five-part crown worn by senior monks and lamas in some sects of Vajrayana Buddhism, especially in Lamaism, though occasionally also in other Mahayana sects in China and Vietnam (fig.), and used during certain religious ceremonies or rituals, such as abhisheka, i.e. unction or anointment rituals used in Tantrism, amongst others. This diadem-like ornament is made up of five sections, each containing a depiction of one of the five dhyani buddhas or the Sanskrit syllables that correspond with their names and represent their essence. Each section has an arched top and consists of a thin gilded metal panel, and are attached to each other with a red ribbon or cord. When on the head, the crown's shape is reminiscent to that of an open lotus flower (fig.). It is usually worn together with a royal topknot, i.e. a stitched fabric hu lu or nahm tao-shaped topknot (fig.). While wearing the crown (fig.), the lama or monk visualizes himself as the actual deity he is invoking. A similar crown is also used by monks of the Bön religion (fig.), but normally without the royal topknot and often with slightly different depictions, which are often painted in vivid colours. Bön crowns may also have five buddhas, but those are generally depicted with their personal mount or vahana. However, today the Tibetan and Bön religions are very similar and have all but assimilated into each other, making distinctions in dress less more obvious. In Mahayana Buddhist art and iconography, the dbu rgyan is often seen on the heads of important monks or deities, such as the Four Heavenly Kings (fig.), Tripitaka (fig.), etc. It may occasionally have other depictions than the five transcendental buddhas or their Sanskrit corresponding syllables, such as the Chinese character Fo (佛), which is Mandarin for Buddha.