When traveling in Tibet, we may come across many mounds of stones on the roads of villages, beside the mountains and lakes or outside the temples. Some of these stones are inscribed with pictures or characters, with prayer flags stuck in the middle usually. These are the Mani Stones used as the worship and rogation spots for the local Tibetans, especially villagers who have difficulty accessing to temples.
Mani Stone is a sacred article with nimbus for the Tibetan. When encountering a Mani Stone Mound in the circumambulation road, the devout Tibetan will pick up a stone by the way and cling it to the forehead, while murmuring mantras at the same time. Then they will drop it into the mound. So from day to day, the piles get into larger and larger massifs. The divine subjects such as heads, horns and wools of animals and even hairs of human can also be added to the mound. It is believed that the sincere wishes begged to the Buddha would come true one day by circumambulating the mound.
Another type of Mani Stone is the Mani Stone Wall inscribed with characters and pictures specially designed by the expert. The common designs are 'Om Mani Padme Hum' mantras, with images of deities, monsters, strong animals and other Buddhist themes decorated sometimes. These walls mainly stand near the temples, which illuminate their golden halls and stupas and add much holiness and blaze to the temples. The widely spread sculptures in Tibet are made in the form of shadow relievos. These include the sculptures in the steep cliffs in Lhasa, Shigatse and other areas.
Nowadays Mani Stone has become a form of art in Tibet, and a group of specialists engaging in the sculpture has emerged as required. The Mani Stones are often considered as patron saints to be stored in the house or taken along when going out.