Many Buddhists in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India, and now all over the world use a prayer box pendant called a “Ghau”. These ghau are mostly made of silver, however the Tibetan artisans also use brass, copper, gold and other metals. Ghau often have intricate designs, auspicious symbols and mantras inscribed on their outer surface Ghau also often contain semi-precious gemstones which have various healing effects on the wearer. Turquoise, considered by many as a master healing stone, Lapis Lazuli and coral are especially popular in Tibetan prayer box design for their beauty and healing properties. Other gemstones used by the Tibetan craftsman include: amber, carnelian, amethyst, malachite, onyx, and topaz.
The Ghau opens to a concealed inner space, and is traditionally used by Tibetan Buddhists to hold a picture of their favorite deity or Lama, a folded up scroll of sacred mantras, special herbs or sacred relics. The Ghau is used as an amulet to help the wearer to ward off negative energy and attract blessings. A Ghau are also used as a portable shrine and are worn on a cord around the neck and hung close to the heart.
In different religions and cultures, these boxes have different names. While Tibetan Buddhists call it a "Ghau" (Gau or Gao), Latin Americans call it a "Package Amulet," African-Americans say "Conjure Bag" or "Mojo Hands," South Americans have "Charm Vials" and contemporary Americans sometimes refer to them as "Wish Boxes". While there may be some debate as to where the prayer box first originated, they are treasured by many faiths, and even by nonreligious individuals.