Tibetan freedom bracelets

Tibetan freedom bracelets have been a popular item in the Tibetan Nuns Project online store for many years.

Tibetan freedom braceletFreedom or rangzen bracelets were first made by Tibetan political prisoners near Lhasa. In prison, they were woven from white and black yak hair or from whatever bits of thread were available. Their pattern of “nine eyes” has a deep historical significance. The design is based on the traditional slingshot used by Tibetan shepherds and nomads to protect their herds from wolves.

traditional Tibetan sling

Traditional Tibetan sling

So the sling came to symbolize the conquering power of good over evil. Over time, the people of Tibet took up the idea so that even city dwellers owned slings as a sort of protective force. They were kept in a yang-gam, a small box that contained precious stones, gold, silver, and blessed objects. It was believed that owning a sling heightened your defensive power and would make you victorious.

It is said that the first Tibetan freedom bracelets were made by the famous prisoner, scholar and freedom fighter, Geshe Yulo Dawa Tsering. He served 20 years in prison after his participation in the March 1959 Uprising in Lhasa and was detained again in December 1987, spending more than seven more years in prison for expressing his views on the situation in Tibet in a video filmed by an Italian tourist.

To pass the time, Geshe Yulo Dawa Tsering took white wool and black yak hair and wove small bracelets in the traditional 9-eyed pattern. He handed them out secretly to his fellow prisoners who wore them as a form of silent protest.

When the guards asked the meaning of the bracelets, the Tibetans explained that the 9-eyed pattern protected the wearer from numerous fatal diseases, nervous disorders and other illness. Eventually these bracelets became very fashionable and were worn by thousands of Tibetans worldwide. Even the Chinese in Tibet began wearing them, unaware of their symbolism. Once the true meaning was discovered, the Chinese authorities tried to ban them, but were unsuccessful. Geshe Yulo Dawa Tsering passed away in 2002.

Tibetan freedom bracelets made by the nuns

Nun in 2002 with huge pile of freedom bracelets

Now the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala in northern India continue to make the Tibetan freedom bracelets. They are an expression of endurance and defiance against Communist Chinese oppression. Many of the nuns who escaped to India were once political prisoners and experienced great suffering and torture while in prison. The nuns make the bracelets in the hope that they will spread awareness of the plight of the Tibetan people and the desperate need for basic human rights in Tibet.

Each bracelet is handwoven by a Tibetan Buddhist nun using 100% cotton black and white yarns. The bracelet measures 11″ long (27.9 cm) and is adjustable to fit most wrist sizes. The bracelets come with a card explaining their significance.

Purchase of these bracelets benefits the Tibetan Nuns Project, which provides education, health care, and basic humanitarian aid to over 700 Tibetan refugee nuns now living in India. This support includes improving standards of food, sanitation, medical care, and establishing further facilities for refugee Buddhist nuns.

To order your Tibetan freedom bracelet, visit our online store.

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