The front is bordered with red and blue Chrysanthemums on a gold background. The chrysanthemum symbolizes autumn & the gathering of the harvest. In this case, it is a metaphor for achieving the goal of enlightenment & its accompanying peace. The blue represents compassion. Red is the transmutation of passion into compassion. The gold background denotes the purity of thoughts and actions achieved through this transmutation. The majority of the Tibetan Buddhist symbols on this torma trunk centers around the Four Noble Truths, as represented by the four petaled flower.
The center of the front has a unique representation of the four petaled flower with multiple sets of four, all leading to multiple sets of eight representing the path from the Four Noble Truths to the Eight-Fold Noble Path commonly known as the Dharma. The background has mare's tail cumulus clouds with red and green toma offerings floating in the sky like jewels; at each corner is a burgeoning single petal of the stylized four petaled flower. Interestingly four shoots are coming out of the central flower and these have at their ends what appears to be lotus buds. The 4-petaled flower is symbolic of the 4 Noble truths, the middle way and the first teaching of Buddha. 1. Life is suffering. 2. Ignorance is the cause of suffering. 3. The cessation of suffering is the goal of life because it transcends pains and pleasure. 4. The way to the cessation of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path, which aligns with the eight spokes of the Dharma Wheel. The Eightfold Noble path must be taken together, not separately: 1. right understanding . 2. right attitude 3. right speech 4. right action 5. right work 6. right effort 7. right mindfulness 8. right meditation. Mare's tail cumulus clouds are quite common in Tibet; one significance of these fast moving clouds and the pure clarity of the sky is metaphorically an illustration of the Buddha Mind. Clouds may come and go across the heavens, like the transitory thoughts or delusions which appear to obscure the mind's true nature, yet the nature of the sky remains unchanged. this is like the mirror, which is always unaffected by the appearances which arise in it, the sky is clear, transparent, infinite and immaculate. The toma is an offering made from barley flour, yak butter and water.
The sides again have a plethora of four petaled flowers surrounding a unique Tibetan Buddhist Treasure vase with precious red coral and kusha grass coming out of the top. Looking into the vase there is a stack of Cintamani, pure water, kusha grass the King's earrings and elephant tusks that represent the entire elephant. The vase or urn (kalasa) promises the good fortune of spiritual and material fulfillment, symbolizing the treasure of spiritual wealth. Among those treasures is the jewel of enlightenment. It also extends to the material side and it is characteristic of the deities that symbolize prosperity. Kusha grass grows to a height of two feet and is used to purify defilements. Those wishing purification sleep in a field or patch of kusha grass for ritual purification. Placed under a pillow at night before initiation, Kusha grass is believed to produce clear dreams; it is also used to enhance the clarity of visualization and meditation. Kusha is the grass of choice for the manufacture of sacred meditation mats. Cintamani are wish-granting jewels and additionally represent wisdom. When depicted in sets of 3, they represent the body, speech and mind of Buddha such as the practitioner may possess. Cintamani are also referred to as the “Thinking Jewel” and symbolize the importance of teaching and as well as the enlightened mind. The top jewel in this stack is flaming and blue, along with the King's earrings and elephant tusks they are part of the seven Precious Possessions of Chakravartin. Chakravartin, or Wheel Turner
in Hinduism refers to an ideal ruler, but in Buddhism, Chakravartin has come to mean a Buddha whose all-encompassing teachings are universally true. Chakravartin has an army of 4 divisions, infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots. Chakravartin is the lineage of 25 Kulika kings or enlightened monarchs, the 25th of which will finally defeat the "non-believers." The Precious Elephant is a symbol of the strength of the mind in Buddhism. Exhibiting noble gentleness, the precious elephant serves as a symbol of the calm majesty possessed by one who is on the path. Specifically, it embodies the boundless powers of the Buddha, which are miraculous aspiration, effort, intention, and analysis. When elephant tusks are depicted, they naturally are symbolic of the whole elephant. The Precious King's or Minister's heavy earrings are taken as a symbol of comprehension of the Buddha’s teachings. The weight of the earrings would have caused the wearers earlobes to elongate. The long earlobes of the Buddha are a symbol of his detachment from all things earthly. Like the Buddha, the King represents a wealth of faith, morality, honesty, modesty, learning, renunciation, and wisdom. The King is also referred to as the Precious minister. His intelligence is razor-sharp, with a great ability for patience and listening. He desires to do only good works to promote the Dharma, to protect and benefit all beings. The Eight-faceted blue flaming jewel, has eight magical properties, not eight carved faces. It cools when the days are hot, warms when the days are cold, illuminates the darkness of night, causes rain to fall or a spring to appear when one is thirsty, it brings to fruition what ever the bearer desires, it heals emotional afflictions, and cures all of the diseases of those who are in its range of its light and lastly prevents untimely death as in fathers passing on before sons.
The top is again in keeping with the central theme of the Four noble Truths; split into four sections, with the north and south sections having the 4 petaled flower, while the east and west sections have durva grass. Grass, in sanskrit, Durva, is a symbol for long (or Longer) life and is used in life-enriching rituals. grass, being highly resilient, is believed to be immortal and so proclaims the end of samsara, the successive death and rebirth of all beings.