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You are here: Home > dZi & other Ancient, Antique & Rare Beads > Ancient dZi with eyes
All images and text © copyright 2005 to 2014 Garuda Trading


The most desirable of all beads in Tibet and the Himalayan regions is the dZi stone (which has also been spelled gzi, ghzi, zi, tzi). The word dZi is pronounced like zee or in some regions züh and can be translated as bright, luminous or shine. The Tibetan word 'Ziji' is often translated as splendour or radiance, and it is with this word connection that we can perhaps understand 'Zi' beads more fully. Ancient beads are revered as sacred amulets, and due to their rarity they have become incredibly sought after and subsequently very valuable. They continue to play a significant role in Tibeatn culture, Tibetan medicine and the spiritual traditions of the Himalayan regions -- a role that has undoubtedly existed since ancient times. The deeper meaning of the word dZi (Wylie: gZi) is much more likely to refer to the amuletic power or qualities associated with these beads. It is these qualities that Tibetans believe can both protect and dispel all manner of negativity for the wearer.



The actual practice of decorating stone beads has been known since at least 2500 BCE in Mesopotamia, however, it is still unclear as to the 'exact' place of origin and time of manufacture when referring to the dZi beads discovered in Tibet. The earliest mention of dZi beads is thought to date back to the time of King Gesar of Ling, although actual written records of the Gesar legend probably do not exist before the 16th century.
It is widely believed that King Gesar ruled in East Tibet around 1000 years ago. He is thought to have plundered countless dZi beads from Tajikstan or Persia, which were later dispersed throughout Tibet and the Himalayan regions.

It is also believed that dZi beads were used as currency in the ancient Shang Shung Kingdom of Tibet (Chögyal Namkai Norbu 2009). The capital city of this kingdom, located to the south west of Mount Kailash, was called
Khyunglung or the Silver Palace of the Garuda. This was long before Buddhism was established in Tibet and Bön was the official religion. Ancient decorated agates have been discovered in many other locations that include: Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Ladakh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.



Above: The Jowo Rinpoche statue is decorated with dZi and other precious stones.


We can see that the trade of dZi and other decorated agate beads was not limited to Tibet, however, it does seem that the Himalayan regions are the most important areas for the discovery of these beads today. The fact that they are still shrouded in so much mystery only continues to fuel people's fascination and desire to own them.

Are they a gift from the Gods?

Tibetans generally believe that dZi beads are of divine origin and therefore not created by human hands. Some say they are dropped by the Gods to benefit those who have the good fortune to find them. Since they are believed to be divinely created, they are considered to be a very precious and powerful amulet. Beads can often be seen in Tibetan temples adorning the most revered statues and stupas. They are thought to bring good fortune, ward off evil, and protect the wearer from physical harm and illness. It has even been claimed by Tibetan refugees, that they protect the wearer from knife and bullet attacks! One story doing the rounds on the internet, is that a Taiwanese businessman escaped from a plane crash where there were only two survivors. He claimed that this was thanks to the dZi bead he was wearing.

Another belief is that they are the precious dung of the Garuda or Khyung bird. These droppings in the form of dZi, fall to the ground when he flies through the sky. The Garuda has special importance in the tantric teachings of Tibetan Buddhism where he is sometimes seen as a manifestation of Guru Rinpoche. In the Hindu legends, the Garuda is revered as the steed of Vishnu and is recognised throughout the Himalayas and South Asia.

In the practice of Tibetan Medicine, powdered dZi is mixed with ground gold, silver and pearl to produce medicinal pills (Tib: ril bu) with potent healing properties. There are also clear records of dZi being used in Tibetan medicine from at least the 12th century CE. Genuine dZi are also used by Tibetan Thangka painters to apply gold leaf to important paintings. It is also said that those who own a pure dZi will receive blessings directly from divine beings. A pure dZi is also believed to bring longevity, healing, good fortune, wealth and power. Tibetan people do not readily part with their dZi. In fact it is not considered favourable to sell a dZi that has been in a family for generations. This is another reason that authentic heirloom dZi are seldom seen in the marketplace.


Physical evidence shows that beads were decorated with chemical treatments. This practice was known since at least 2500 BCE in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. It is believed that agate was artificially darkened by applying a sugar rich solutuion to the surface. By heating the bead the sugar would caramelise and turn the bead brown. Acid treatments would burn the sugar and turn the bead black. Even the most natural looking beads may have been put through a process to enhance the crystalline banding in the stone or darken the colour.

Beads with eyes and unique designs are usually valued much higher. A flawless and unique bead can command the highest prices and they are not easy to come by. Common decorations can include zig zags, diamonds, circles, squares, waves, and stripes. Beads with an opaque dark brown to black base colour are the most sought after, along with a clearly defined and well contrasted decoration. Having said this, all types of dZi will always remain highly collectible because they are so scarce.

It is generally recognised that dZi that have 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 eyes (odd numbers) are the most sought after. A bead with nine eyes is likely to be the most valuable of all dZi, however, there are always exceptions to the rule. Beads that have unique decorations or beads that are rare in size, can also be more collectible and valuable. Next we have beads that display an even number of eyes. Two eyed beads are more readily available, so they are usually more affordable. Then we have dZi that are decorated with stripes, these are called Chung or Chong dZi (although any ancient agate bead can also be known by this name). There are also tabular dZi which are known as Luk Mik (Sheep's Eye) or Ta Mik (Horse Eye), Tasso dZi (Horse tooth), Tiger dZi (oval decorated dZi with double stripes) and Phum dZi (fat grey/black decorated agates with the net or longevity design). Lastly we have the undecorated ancient agates that were traded primarily from India and Western Asia.

According to Himalayan folklore, a good place to find a dZi is near to a rock pool or hot spring. Beads are also said to be found in freshly ploughed fields. Other stories tell us that dZi were once creatures that crawled like worms. The moment they are touched by human hands they are turned to stone (complete with perforation). Tibetans even claim that cattle would mistakenly eat these creatures whilst grazing in the fields, and later give birth to them in the form of a dZi bead.

There is also a common story that tells of a man who once saw one of these worm-like creatures. He quickly threw his hat over it in an attempt to catch it. When he removed the hat, the worm had miraculously turned into a beautiful dZi. Another legend tells us that the dZi originated from a sacred mountain in Tibet. In ancient times, a stream was said to flow down its slopes. One day an evil sorcerer cast a spell upon the mountain and the flow immediately stopped. This is said to account for why many ancient dZi display decorations, like a stream frozen in time. Many of the decorations are said to predate Buddhism and they reflect a time when people were deeply connected to the nature. The symbols that appear on dZi are often compared to natural elements like water, earth and sky. Some beads are said to display characteristics of animals both mythical and real -- like a dragon, garuda, turtle or tiger for example.

Although ancient beads are the most sought after, newly made dZi (see twelve eyed bead above) can still be highly collectible. Some of the rarer quality new beads also command very high prices in and outside of Asia. For a bead to be recognised as a genuine dZi, it must be made of agate. Beads made from glass, bone, plastic, wood or any other material are merely imitations.

During the past 20 years and with the greater spread of Tibetan Buddhism, ancient dZi have now become desirable all over the world. We manage to source a small amount of these beads every year, but this is certainly not going to last forever. On our website you will find a selection of both ancient and recently created dZi. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a full refund. We offer you a complete guarantee that our beads are of the highest quality and are authentic.

Please note that the bead you see on our website is the bead that you will receive. All of our dZi are made from genuine agate and all are suitable to be worn. We are also able to source ancient dZi from a reliable network of dZi dealers in Asia. So if you are looking for a special bead please contact us.




The majority of our beads have been sourced in the Himalayan regions and others come from private collections. The modern dZi we offer (see our new dZi bead category) are mainly purchased in Nepal and are no more than 20 years old. They are an affordable alternative to our ancient beads. It is also important to recognise that our bead prices are based on the individual 'merits' of each bead and not based on a 'one price fits all' system. This means we pay a premium for individual beads we source because they are the best of their kind.



We are always striving to increase our understanding of these wonderful beads and readily accept comments and suggestions to improve the acurracy of our information. For thousands of years a wealth of stone beads have been traded and heirloomed within the Himalayas. These beads have become deeply rooted in Tibetan & Himalayan customs and their spiritual traditions. We feel very privileged to be able to offer these beads to you.



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Ancient Four Eyed dZi Bead with ancient break
Ancient Four Eyed dZi Bead with ancient break

Please contact us for the price.

A spectacular ancient dZi bead that originally displayed four eyes contained within four squares or earth doors. At some point in antiquity this bead broke in half, however, it has clearly been heirloomed and worn on the body for many centuries. The fine usage patina and end wear is indicative of a bead that was highly valued even with the break. It is a lovely dark brown colour and is mostly opaque. This large portion displays clear decoration and two eyes contained within squares. If this bead was undamaged it would have a price tag of $80,000 + if sold within Asia.

Condition of this piece: Excellent
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Origin: Tibet
34 mm x 13 mm
Rare Ancient dZi with Diamond Eyes
Rare Ancient dZi with Zig Zag Design and Diamond Eyes

SOLD!

A superb ancient dZi bead with a marvelous usage patina and reddish orange earthen hues. The surface of the bead has been worn smooth from centuries of being worn as an amulet. It displays an interesting and rarely seen zig zag decoration which is now quite faint due to its great age. It would originally have had two clear diamond shaped eyes that are now just visible. The ends have great wear from rubbing against other beads. A wonderful ancient bead!

Prized in Tibet and the Himalayan regions.
Age: 2000 years old +
Collected in India in the 1970s and remaining in a private collection since this time.
size 33 mm x 14 mm
Ancient Damaged dZi Bead
Ancient Damaged dZi Bead

SOLD!

A very nice portion of an ancient three eyed dZi bead. Two eyes can be seen on this portion.

Condition of this piece: Excellent
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Prized in Tibet and the Himalayan regions
18.34 mm x 11.31 mm
Rare Ancient Three Eyed dZi Bead
Rare Ancient Three Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

An amazing ancient three eyed dZi bead in fine condition. Beads with an odd number of eyes are the most sought after in Tibet and few beads of this type are ever seen in the marketplace. This dZi is in excellent condition for a bead that is likely to be more than 2000 years old. There is minor weathering to the body and some minor digs worn smooth from centuries of heirlooming and wearing on the body. There are no breaks or cracks on the body of this bead. This is a perfect robust dZi that oozes character and desirability. Notice how the decoration encloses two of the eyes all the way to the end lines. This is rarely seen on a three eyed bead and we do not recall seeing another ancient dZi like this for sale. The bead is opaque, which also makes this far more collectible than a translucent bead. Numerous blood spots can also be seen under magnification, which Tibetans believe indicates a very healthy and potent dZi.  

Please note that the crystalline zones around the eyes are inherent in the stone. During the decorating process, only the areas that are porous will allow the decoration and colour enhancement to penetrate deep into the stone. Crystalline areas will not allow this, which is why many ancient dZi display small crystal zones on the body of the bead.

length 36 mm
width 11 mm
Origin: Tibet/Himalayas
Age: 2000 years + or -
Condition: Excellent. No Breaks, Cracks or Repairs
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

A very collectible ancient two eyed dZi bead with the lightning bolt decoration. Two crystalline lines can be seen in the centre of the bead. This bead also displays bloodspots. In recent years the price of dZi has rocketed in Nepal and Tibet. The best two eyed beads can command as much as $20,000.

Condition: Very good with minor weathering. No breaks, cracks or repairs. Lovely usage patina.
Tibet/Himalayas
Age: 2000 years + or -
length 24.5 mm
width 10 mm
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

This is a beautiful two eyed dZi bead. In the light it displays an earthy reddish base colour and creamy yellow lines. The body displays a wonderful ancient patina that can only develop from centuries of close contact to the body. The faint lines that can be seen on the body are the natural crystalline banding of the stone.

Condition: Very good with one tiny medicinal end nik. No breaks, cracks or repairs.
length 32.02 mm x 9.93 mm
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Origin: Tibet
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

A stunning investment quality ancient two eyed dZi bead. Displays a very nice dark brown base colour and strong well contrasted eyes. The decorated lines are in the step or lightning bolt design. Also displays blood spots under magnification.

Condition: Excellent. No breaks or repairs.
length approx 32 mm x 11 mm
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Origin: Tibet/Himalayas
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

Another wonderful investment quality ancient two eyed dZi bead recently aquired from a private collection. Displays a very nice dark brown to black base colour and strong well contrasted eyes. The decorated lines are in the step or lightning bolt design. Also displays blood spots under magnification.

Condition: Excellent. No breaks or repairs.
length approx 29 mm x 11 mm
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Origin: Tibet/Himalayas
Ancient Barrel Shaped dZi Bead
Ancient Barrel Shaped dZi Bead

SOLD!

A fat barrel shaped ancient dZi bead with strong weathering and cloudy surface, possibly due to extended burial or overheating at the time of creation. This ia a dZi bead that would usually display three eyes or dots. Only one eye remains visible on this bead. It still remains robust and free from breaks, cracks or repairs. The deep end wear from rubbing against other beads suggests this dZi has been worn and cherished for many centuries. This bead was collected in India in the 1970s and has remained in a private collection until recently.

Age: 2000 years old + or -
Origin: Tibet/Himalayas
Size: 18.63 mm x 11.85 mm
Ancient Barrel Shaped dZi Bead
Ancient Barrel Shaped dZi Bead - 3 eyes

SOLD!

A fat barrel shaped dZi bead that would usually display three eyes or dots. Only two eyes are clearly visible on this bead and the other is quite faint. It still remains robust and free from breaks or repairs. This bead was collected in India in the 1970s and has remained in a private collection until recently. The best examples of these beads are typically achieving $7000 or more in Nepal, so this represents excellent value.

Age: 2000 years old + or -
Origin: Tibet/Himalayas
Size: 17 mm x 13 mm
Ancient Sakor Namkor dZi
Rare Ancient Sakor Namkor (Earth Door Sky Door) dZi Bead

SOLD!

A beautiful rare dZi bead displaying the Sakor Namkor design (One Square and One Circle/Eye). The bead has a dark brown base colour and a body worn smooth from centuries of close contact to the body. The Sakor Namkor are one of the most sought after beads in the dZi family. This pure dZi remains robust and can easily be strung and worn as an amulet.

Age: 2000 years old + or - Origin: Tibet/Himalayas Size: 2.8 cm x 1.1 cm Colour: Strong dark brown with ivory coloured lines.

Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

A very collectible ancient two eyed dZi bead with the lightning bolt decoration. Also displays numerous bloodspots.

Condition: Very good with minor weathering. No breaks or repairs.
Tibet/Himalayas
Age: 2000 years + or -
length 24 mm
width 10.5 mm
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

An amazing ancient two eyed dZi bead with a strong base colour. This robust bead displays a surface worn smooth from possibly thousands of years of heirlooming and being worn on the body. Oils from the skin have penetrated the stone and the more porous lines have turned a yellowish colour. It also displays numerous blood spots which Tibetans find a very desirable inclusion and is considered to be the mark of a powerful amulet. This bead was purchased in Nepal during the early 1990s and has been worn by the current owner ever since. It is now time for this dZi to find a new home.

Condition: Excellent, with minor weathering and surface digs. No damage, breaks or repairs.
Age: 1000 BCE to 1000 CE
Origin: Tibet/Himalayas
Size: 29 mm x 9-10mm
Colour: Strong dark brown to black
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

This is a fantastic ancient dZi that displays two eyes and unusual decoration. The bead is in excellent condition.

Prized in Tibet and the Himalayan regions
3.45 cm x 1.2 cm
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Ancient Three Eye dZi Bead
Ancient Three Eye dZi Bead

SOLD!

A very rare ancient three eye dZi bead in wonderful condition. In Tibet, dZi beads with three eyes are amongst the most sought after of all eye beads. These smaller barrel shaped three eyed beads are extremely sought after for adding to a mala. This is a particularly fine example in excellent condition and displaying numerous blood spots.

Prized in Tibet and the Himalayan regions.
15 mm x 12 mm
Age: 2000 years + or -
Condition: Excellent. No breaks, cracks or repairs.
Ancient Sakor Namkor dZi
Ancient Sakor Namkor (Earth Door Sky Door) dZi Bead

SOLD!

An ancient dZi bead displaying the Sakor Namkor design (One Square and One Circle/Eye). The Sakor Namkor are one of the most sought after beads in the dZi family. This bead displays deep ancient wear at the ends and a cloudy coloured body, which is possibly due to spending some of its life buried in the ground. The bead is worn silky smooth from centuries of close contact to the body. In Tibet, a perfect Sakor Namkor with clear lines and dark opaque body can command as much as $30,000. Although this bead does not display perfect colour it is a good opportunity to own an ancient dZi at a low price. This bead was collected in the 1970s from a Tibetan dZi dealer in India and has remained in a private German collection since this time.

Condition: A good robust bead with no damage, breaks or repairs.

Age: 2000 years old + or - Origin: Tibet/Himalayas Size: 29.44 mm x 10.24 mm
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

A super ancient two eyed dZi displaying a beautiful usage patina. It has a desirable plump shape and is in excellent condition with no breaks, repairs or cracks. Loads of character!

Condition: Excellent with minor weathering.
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Origin: Tibet
length 3.2 cm
width 1.3 cm
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

An amazing ancient two eyed dZi bead with a strong opaque base colour. Displaying very clear lines and eyes. The bead also shows the lightning bolt or step design. Blood spots (iron inclusions) can also be seen on the body. Ancient dZi are the most prized amulets in the Himalayan regions and beads of this quality are seldom seen in the marketplace.

The bead remains robust and is free from breaks and repairs.

Condition: Excellent, with minor weathering and surface digs. No damage, breaks or repairs.

Age: 1000 BCE to 1000 CE
Origin: Tibet/Himalayas
Size: 22.75 mm x 10.58 mm
Colour: Strong opaque dark brown to black
Rare Ancient Chong dZi with silver repair
Rare Ancient Chong dZi with silver repair

SOLD!

A very large Chong dZi with an old silver repair at the centre. It is possible this bead once displayed eyes which are now hidden by the repair. Some would argue this is actually a pure dZi with an unusual decoration. It has a an opaque grey body with clearly defined white lines. The ends show considerable wear from being strung with other beads. It is difficult to convey the feeling of a bead through a photograph but this bead oozes a quality rarely seen with other ancient dZi.

Prized in Tibet and the Himalayan regions.
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Collected in India in the 1970s in this condition.
size 45 mm x 15 mm
Rare Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead with Diamond Eyes
Rare Ancient Two Eyed dZi Bead with Diamond Eyes

SOLD!

A beautiful rare dZi bead displaying two diamond shaped eyes and an hourglass like motif that is often believed to represent a tantric drum known as a damaru.

Condition: Very good, with minor weathering commensurate with age. One end has a small medicinal dig. No breaks, cracks or repairs.

Age: 1000 years +
Origin: Prized in Tibet and the Himalayan regions.
Size: 38 mm x 12 mm
Ancient Damaged Three Eyed dZi Bead
Ancient Damaged Three Eyed dZi Bead

SOLD!

A very nice portion of an ancient three eyed dZi bead. Only one eye remains on this portion. One side and the end where the break happened has been polished smooth. This is a robust portion of ancient dZi bead and is still suitbale to be worn. If this bead was undamaged it would easily exceed $30,000 in Asia.

Condition of this piece: Excellent
Age: 2000 years old + or -
Prized in Tibet and the Himalayan regions
24 mm x 12.5 mm