We give all sorts of things an extra layer of meaning, a symbolic meaning. A white bird in a painting is a dove, but it’s also a symbol of peace. Since peace is an idea, it can’t be drawn directly, so artists have found a way to convey that idea with a picture of a white bird.
In Tibet, carpets and other fabrics are decorated with monsters, birds, flowers, and designs. The designs don’t have a symbolic meaning, but the dragons and cranes and lotus blossoms each carry a special meaning, like the dove. We’ve chosen twenty-two Tibetan objects from the collection of the Newark Museum, each of them covered with pictures, for you to color. They are shown as small reproductions on the inside front and back covers. The captions on the pages that follow tell you something about Tibetan symbolism. The last page of this book is blank so that you can draw and color your own picture. Fill it with snow lions, lotus flowers, and your own symbolic creatures and plants.