Buddhist symbols and their Meanings

Buddhism is an Indian religion based on the message of buddha’s teaching and symbols promoted and taught. He was born as Siddhartha Gautama Buddha in ancient India. But the information on his life is inconsistent as some facts are only assumptions. Something we have is the buddhist symbols, images and pictures of sacred and protection religious symbols of buddhism which are in all around the world, in art an architecture.


The buddhist symbols


The Buddhist Symbols and their Meaning

The representation of Buddha in the early practice did not include the now popular Buddha statue. Rather, there were symbols used to represent him and his teachings.

These signs have increased in number. But there are some prominent signs such as the lion, its footprint, the Bodhi tree and the eight auspicious symbols.

His image is now the most recognized symbol. But the other are still important today. The lotus flower is in the Chinese monasteries to adorn the Buddha statues.

The temples in Sri Lanka and Thailand still use the older Buddhism symbols as well.

For each sign there is an image, a meaning and symbolism related:

  1. The parasol: means crown and protection
  2. Two golden fish: means happiness and freedom
  3. Conch shell: means buddha thougths
  4. Dharma Wheel: means knowledge
  5. Treasure vase: treasure and wealth
  6. The lotus flower: purity and enlightenment
  7. Victory banner: a victory in battle
  8. Eternal knot: harmony and love
  9. The lion: power and strength
  10. Begging bowl: peace
  11. Empty throne: buddha
  12. Bodhi tree: awakening and enlightenment


Let’s see the icons pictures and images of the most popular buddhist symbols:

1. Parasol


A parasol is an umbrella which represents protection symbol from the sun, strength, difficulties, and illness.

It also represents royalty and dignity. Other things it represents are the Eightfold path, wisdom and even compassion. The meaning of this sign varies by the shape of the parasol.




2. Two Golden Fish

two golden fish

This image represents good fortune, joy, freedom, fertility, and abundance. This is because of the freedom of fish in water and the reproduction rate of fishes.

This sign also represents unity in marriage because fishes swim in pairs.

3. Conch Shell (Sankha)

Conch Shells were battle horns in many countries. These conch shells represent the wide reach of Buddha’s teachings.

The conch shell also means the enlightenment of people. Also, the elimination of ignorance from people who hear the message.  




4. Dharma Wheel

The dharma wheel has eight spokes which represent the Eightfold path, one of the key concepts of Buddhism.

This wheel represents the elimination of the repeated cycle of birth and death and lack of satisfaction (samsara). You can stop it through the acceptance and practice of the Buddha doctrine.


5. Treasure Vase

It represents the unending blessing that comes with enlightenment. The Buddhism message is likened to a vase filled with treasures. It can never be exhausted.

This vase represents health, wealth and spiritual growth as the benefits of accepting the message.


6. The Lotus

The lotus flower is a beautiful flower that grows in the mud. The manner in which this flower grows represents the human nature.

It represents rising from adversity to a state of enlightenment. It also means faith.  The lotus plants grow in different colors, each of these colors has a different meaning.


  • White lotus flower: Spiritual purity
  • Red: Love and compassion
  • Blue: Wisdom and intelligence
  • Pink: Buddhist Traditions
  • Gold: Total enlightenment

7. Victory Banner

The victory banner represents the victory of the message over obstacles, material desires, and fears.

Essentially, this is a sign of the doctrine. A path to overcoming selfish desires and emotions to reach spiritual enlightenment.

8. Eternal or Endless Knot

The eternal knot represents the interconnectedness of everything in life. The eternal knot also symbolizes the unending and supreme wisdom of Buddha.

9. The Lion

While the lion is not one of the eight auspicious symbols, it is quite popular.
The lion represents the power of the Buddha message. This also means royalty.


10. The Begging Bowl

It represents a life of simplicity and content that monks decide to live. This decision is based on the teachings of Buddha against selfish desires and forming attachments with material things.



11. An empty throne

Buddha was a prince, and this is a symbol of his origin. However, the emptiness of the throne also symbolizes the mysticism.


12. The Bodhi tree

Allegedly, Buddha received enlightenment while under a Bodhi tree. For this reason, a Bodhi tree symbol portray liberation.


13. Buddhism Hand Symbol

The Yoga hand is like the palm of a hand. It protects against evil eye.


Let’s see the main symbolism and meanings of signs below.


Frequently Asked questions

Which is the Buddhism Symbol for inner Peace

This is the Symbol for inner peace.

Which is the Buddhism Symbol for Love

The eternal or endless knot and the red lotus flower.


What is the Buddhist Symbol for Strength

The parasol or umbrella for strength.



What is the Buddhism Symbol for enlightenment

The treasure vase sign for enlightenment.


What is the Buddhist Symbol for Protection

The parasol or umbrella sign. A protection symbol.



The Key Themes of Buddhism symbolism


It is one of the oldest religions in the world and it has evolved. Each of the evolved sects has adopted something that was not in the original message. These include deities or astrology. It is based on wisdom and compassion.
The one thing that has not changed is the key themes of buddhism symbolism. These themes were the main parts of the Buddha’s message. They still continue to promote and observe them.


The first noble truth:

This states that life in its entirety is suffering. Human beings tend to experience suffering from loss, illness, poverty, emotional unwellness and even joy. Joy is linked to suffering. It is because whatever caused the feeling of joy can be responsible for unhappiness as well.

The cause of joy 

Human beings, emotion or material things will be lost and cause pain.

Materialism causes suffering:

This is based on the selfish message. Humans may suffer because of the selfish needs or thirsts for things they can not or may never be able to get. This leaves the individual in a perpetual state of sadness and without fulfillment.

The third noble truth:

Suffering stops when you drop desire. This is because suffering is caused by thirst or need for things we do not have. The solution is to detach yourself from the material needs and desires.
This also means that placing value on material items will result in pain when the items are gone. Non-attachment is a main concept.

The Eightfold Path:

This is a teaching that explains that by living a morally right and enlightened life, suffering can come to an end.
There are eight factors in this path which are guides on the way individuals should behave. think and live their lives to enjoy liberation.
The absence of sin but the presence of ignorance. This reoccurring message in all Buddhist messages is that there is no sin. Only ignorance ‘avidyā.’ Hence, the message is a path to enlightenment.


There are also many tibetan buddhist symbols in art, often used in tibetan art and buddhism architecture and buddhists jewelry jewels related to these signs.