About Jampa Designs
I have always been drawn to the concept of jewellery as objects of personal power. My childhood was filled with the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of a number of mythological sagas centered around enchanted jewellery. Yet his work is not alone - countless myths and legends across the world feature enchanted rings, amulets, and jewels. The very concept of the jewel is used in Buddhism to describe the most revered motifs in phenomenal existence - the three ultimate sources of refuge (Buddha, Dharma, and Noble Sangha), or the “Three Jewels.”
Even in the course of my Tibetan Medical studies, the symbolic and practical power of precious gems and metals repeatedly came up. Our materia medica included sections on both “meltable” (metals) and “non-meltable” (gems and minerals) precious substances, which could be used in various forms for healing. Even our textbooks themselves were sometimes named after jewels, such as Desi Sangye Gyatso’s seminal commentary on the Four Tantras known as “The Blue Beryl” or “The Aquamarine.”
Jewellery has been with hominids for at least 115,000 years, with the first examples of beaded jewellery found amongst Neanderthal remains along the coast of Spain. We have likely been adorning ourselves with finery longer than we have been using verbal language, making jewellery an earlier form of communication than the spoken word.
Jewellery is instinctual and primal, and yet it has the ability to connect us with deeper modes of existence. Even just by connecting us with a special moment, loved one, or departed relative, jewellery has the ability to ground and inspire us, to give us a taste of the broader scope of the universe, and to help us feel like our most authentic self.
To use an old Tibetan pedagogical trope, I posit that the use of jewellery has outer, inner, and secret meanings:
On an outer level, the display of jewellery serves manifold sociological purposes: it allows those that we encounter to identify our basic ontological orientation, with a crucifix or mala suggesting identification with a specific ideology, but jewellery can also indicate social class or rank, our marital status, our profession, even our sexual proclivities and most intimate personal views. It is, of course, also a method of expressing individual style.
On an inner level, heirlooms and sentimental pieces of jewellery hold deep personal meaning to many people. These pieces accompany us through our lives, picking up an energetic imprint from all that we do, and are often passed on as a reminder of all those who have been their stewards. As an object that will likely last much longer than our limited lifespan, a good piece of jewellery is something that defies our experience of change and offers a glimpse at the bigger universal picture. It provides a thread of continuity through generations, carrying hope, love, pain, loss, and fortitude, relying on nothing but the basic elements of the universe brought into union through the mind of the artist.
On a secret level, we find the most mystical and thoroughly captivating manifestation of jewellery - the concept of the talisman. Talisman comes from ancient Greek telesma, meaning "a religious rite." They are objects, usually worn on the body, which are imbued with magical potency either by their own natural qualities (like namchak/meteorites) or through consecration by their creator. Traditionally, talismans could consist of bodily relics, stones from sacred places, magical devices etched onto hallowed materials, figures of divinities, and so on.
Talismanic amulets in the Tibetan tradition are known as sung-kor, “protection circles,” and often take the shape of complex mandalas drawn on thin paper and sewn into fabric pouches. Others are produced with sacred mantras, symbols of deities, or with empowered substances. Some are believed to offer general protection, while others are “prescribed” for conditions like epilepsy and mental illness, and as prophylactic for contagious diseases. The range is vast, and an energetic sungkor pharmacy could be just as refined and complex as a medical pharmacy.
My intention in founding Jampa Designs is to share some of the magic found in traditional jewellery-crafting, on all levels of meaning. I am passionate about handmade goods and a revolution in the way we relate with our possessions and physical objects. I don't believe in consumption for consumption's sake, and to echo Marie Kondo's aphorism, I whole-heartedly believe that the jewellery we wear should "spark joy." Whether you wear it with pride, pass in on to a loved one, or keep it hidden as a secret talisman, these designs are meant to adorn and celebrate your best self - your true awakened nature.
Erik Jampa Andersson