dZi (pronounced zee; Tibetan གཟི།; Chinese 天珠; alternatively spelled gZi) is a Tibetan word used to describe patterned natural agate beads (of uncertain origin) in mainly cylindrical or tabular shape. In several Asian cultures the bead is thought to provide positive spiritual benefit. dZi beads usually have decorative symbols composed of circles, ovals, squares, waves, zigzags, stripes, lines, diamonds, dots, and various other archetypal and symbolic patterns. dZi beads can appear in different colors, shapes, and sizes. Sometimes the natural patterns of the agate (i.e.,’layered’ swirls) can be seen behind, on top of, or integral to the decorative symbols and designs, and sometimes not.
‘A pure dZi is not a thing of the human world.’ History suggests, and many believe, that dZi are dropped to earth from heaven by the gods. However, in the eyes of Tibetans, dZi beads are like gems and they are not necessarily considered religious objects. Although Tibetans like to make offerings of precious objects in order to show respect to the Buddhas, dZi beads are not closely connected to Tibetan Buddhism. In fact, it is widely understood that dZi was part of the ‘Bon’ animist spiritual tradition which preceded Buddhism in Tibet going back more than 4000 years.
dZi beads have been around for thousands of years yet no one knows the meaning of the patterns and no record is available how, when, or where, they were made. Some people believe that dZi are from God, that they are spiritual in nature, and that wearing them can offer protection to ward off evil spirits. Some claim that dZi contain elements not naturally found on earth, that they fall from the sky like meteorites, and that they have their own magnetic field of energy. Some say that wearing dZi beads can heal the sick and cure disease.
Modern accounts report that dZi beads are found specifically in the Himalayan region of the Tibetan plateau, India, Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, and Ladake, on agricultural land, grassland, in rivers, streams and lakes. Some are even found in the feces of cattle and sheep. Geology points out, during the Mesozoic Era from about 252 to 66 million years ago, that the Tibetan plateau was beneath an ocean, referred to as “Tethys Sea”. The Himalaya Mountains then formed some 65 million years ago into the highest and one of the youngest mountain ranges on the planet. Thus, legend says, dZi are sea creatures, like conch shellfish, moving freely. The lack of water, drained by Himalayan orogeny, caused the creatures to die out and their dried shells became the beads.
dZi beads are agates.
So, what is an agate? Aka; carnelian, quartz, jade, onyx, jasper, sard, chalcedony, silica, silicon, Si, SiO2, rock, crystal, stone, chert, sand.
Agate is a type of chalcedony, a milky form of quartz, that appears in a striking banded formation that people have found aesthetically pleasing for centuries. Chemically, agate is identical to quartz, amethyst, and carnelians. Its chemical formula is; SiO2, silicon dioxide (an oxide of silicon) also known as silica, or sand. Silica is the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust. It has been known for its hardness since ancient times.
Silicon (Si), the basic material of an agate, is element 14 on the Periodic Table of the Elements. It is said to be the eighth most common element in the universe by mass. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. It is determined that over 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (about 28% by mass) after oxygen.
According to the Mineralogical Society article published in Mineralogical Magazine in 2009*; “Investigations of the agate microstructure by polarizing microscopy and CL showed that – chalcedony layers and macrocrystalline quartz crystals may have formed by crystallization from the same silica source by a process of self-organization. High defect densities and internal structures (e.g. sector zoning) of quartz indicate that crystallization went rapidly under non-equilibrium conditions. Most trace-element contents in macrocrystalline quartz are less than in chalcedony due to a process of ‘self-purification‘, which also caused the formation of Fe oxide inclusions and spherules.”
According to Nature (International weekly journal of science), Letters to Nature, July 2000*; “Ordering and self-organization in nanocrystalline silicon – the spontaneous formation of organized nanocrystals in semiconductors has been observed during heteroepitaxial growth and chemical synthesis. The ability to fabricate size-controlled silicon nanocrystals encapsulated by insulating SiO2 would be of significant interest to the microelectronics industry. But reproducible manufacture of such crystals is hampered by the amorphous nature of SiO2 and the differing thermal expansion coefficients of the two materials. Previous attempts to fabricate Si nanocrystals failed to achieve control over their shape and crystallographic orientation, the latter property being important in systems such as Si quantum dots. Here we report the self-organization of Si nanocrystals larger than 80 Å into brick-shaped crystallites oriented along the 111 crystallographic direction. The nanocrystals are formed by the solid-phase crystallization of nanometre-thick layers of amorphous Si confined between SiO2 layers. The shape and orientation of the crystallites results in relatively narrow photoluminescence, whereas isotropic particles produce qualitatively different, broad light emission. Our results should aid the development of maskless, reproducible Si nanofabrication techniques.”
It is interesting that silicon (including agate and chalcedony) will ‘self-organize’ and spontaneously form structured layers and crystals both in nature and in the lab while further ‘self-purification’ causes the formation of oxide inclusions and spherules.
This agate shows habits like; array, line, banding, layer, crease, etc. Sometimes agates reveal habits three-dimensionally on the surface while other times not so much. The color variations of this agate sharply delineate on variegated lines.
* Frontiers in Quartz Research: Preface Mineralogical Magazine, August 2009, v. 73, p. 517-518, published online 13 November 2009, authors, A. Muller and M. D. Welch, ‘Characteristics and origin of agates in sedimentary rocks from the Dryhead area, Montana, USA, The Mineralogical Society.
* Letters to Nature: Nature 407, 358-361 (21 September 2000) | doi:10.1038/35030062; Received 25 May 2000; Accepted 17 July 2000, By; G. F. Grom, P. M. Fauchet, L. Tsybeskov, Nanoscale Silicon Research Initiative, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14618, USA and D. J. Lockwood, J. P. McCaffrey, H. J. Labbé, Institute for Microstructural Sciences, National Research Council, Ottawa K1A OR6, Canada and B. White Jr., Motorola Digital DNA Laboratories, Austin, Texas, USA and J. Diener, D. Kovalev, F. Koch, Technische Universität of München, Physik-Department E16, D 85747 Garching, Germany.