Buddhist Artefacts

What kind of artefacts are commonly used in Buddhism and what are they used for?

  • Are artefacts really useful or necessary for practicing the Dhamma, or are they more like cultural relics?

  • Are you using any artefacts and if so, could you explain how you use them and why? Coffee makers don’t count by the way :blush:

Thank you! :anjal:


By artifacts I’m assuming you’re thinking about Buddha rupas, candles etc?
Presently for me, I would say:

Necessary: No
Useful: Yes for some, no for other

I don’t. I don’t have a Buddha statue or anything Buddhist at home except books. I usually tend to have aversion for anything that link me to a specific group (even a zafu / Buddhist-style meditation cushion etc).

But lately I thought about having the pictures of some inspiring modern monks, I might try this and see if it helps me (getting inspiration etc)… that would be my first kind of Buddhist artifacts that I would use! :slight_smile:

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I don’t believe artifacts are necessary, but I do believe they have been useful for some beings.

I don’t have anything I use outside a cushion to assist in keeping a good posture and occasionally lighting incense.

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Artifacts including statues of the Buddha are not necessary IMO but they may aid some in developing faith Saddha. I do use a cushion to sit on when I meditate but I know even that is dukkha.

The Buddha said that nothing should be clung to ‘sabbe dhammā nālaṃ abhinivesāyā’ti ,MN.37. This includes the teaching too. In MN.22 the Buddha said that even Dhamma has to be let go like a raft after crossing over.
With Metta

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Yes, I’m sorry if that was confusing. I didn’t know how to exactly describe those objects, but I meant something like tools, aids or charms for example.

That’s a beautiful idea.

@Stacey I enjoy lighting incense too. Does it also have a specific purpose or meaning (other than smelling good :relaxed:) ?

Thank you for pointing that out :lotus:

Did the Buddha use any tools or objects himself at one point in his life? Is there any reference about it in the Suttas?

I don’t know of any mention of him owning any candles, rupas, or incense for instance. I know there are suttas of him bowing to monuments. He did, although, list who was worthy of having a stupa or monument built to them (Buddhas). So he indirectly permitted it but never encouraged it actively.

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It is pretty much just because it’s a pleasant smell.
The smoke could symbolize impermanence and there may be an unconscious choice there.
It is also true that sometimes the smoke will waft a bit thick and it goes quickly from pleasant to choking.
Mostly, though, I like the smell.


Japanese incense tends to be way less smokey than the Chinese or cheap varieties.


Hello, here is an excerpt from a booklet written by Ajahn Sucitto and Ajahn Candasiri titled Buddhist rites and observances

“Incense symbolises samådhi or concentration – the measureless composure
of the mind. Just as incense smoke can go everywhere, so the composure of the
mind extends throughout consciousness”

Here is a link to the booklet


This is great @AdrianMagno , thank you so much for the link!


In Sri Lanka incense is symbolic of the virtues, flowers (fading away) of impermanence and light of lamps, of wisdom.

With metta


Hi Mat, yes I actually heard this as well, that incense is symbolic of one’s virtue. Personally I prefer this rendering. I like the idea that if one is virtuous, then one will be ‘sweet smelling to all other beings’ wherever they may go. :anjal:

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