Great new rugs by Elizabeth led me to this fascinating back story.
"Tiger skins have always figured prominently in Buddhist paintings and sculpture. It is said that the tiger skin brings luxuries suitable for a king, creates anger, and keeps the aspirant away from snakes, scorpions and other insects. It protects the Yogin from obstacles and environmental disasters. Only those in power and authority own and use tiger rugs, i.e. those who make laws, sit in judgment and mete out punishment. It was probably not until the 19th Century when tiger pelts imported from India became scarce and extremely expensive that the rug became a reasonable long-lasting substitute. They are very rare – less than 200 of the authentic pieces have survived."
The text and photographs below is from this set on Flickr.