This ornate dagger is a ceremonial tool known as a phurba, used in rituals of Tibetan Buddhism. Crafted with an iron blade and an intricate bronze handle, this example is a recitation phurba and would be kept upon the shrine during ritual ceremony. Commonly shown in the hands of Buddhas and wrathful deities, the phurba is the ultimate weapon, used to cut through the three poisons of ignorance, desire, and hatred and to eliminate all obstructions to one’s spiritual path.
At the top of the bronze handle are the three faces of the meditational deity Hayagriva, the wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Infinite Compassion. In the Hayagriva manifestation, he represents the enlightened speech of all Buddhas and is depicted with a horse head emerging above his crown, symbolizing wrathful speech and the reality of enlightenment.
The handle of the phurba is shaped as a dorje, or vajra, a scepter used during Tibetan Buddhist ritual recitation. Translated as thunderbolt or diamond, the dorje symbolizes that which is invincible and enduring and is characterized by a small sphere at the center, representing the underlying nature of the universe, and multiple prongs enfolding either end of the rod. The dorje handle is flanked at either end by two knots, symbols of samsara and nirvana.
The phurba comes to a point at the bottom with a triangular three-edged iron blade, used symbolically for the destruction of demonic powers. The blade emerges from the mouth of a makara, a fearsome sea creature of Hindu mythology, and three naga serpents wind down the face of the blades. With its intricate design and rich cultural significance, this phurba is a unique and fascinating artifact with deep roots in Tibetan spiritual practice.
Dagger: 2"W x 2"D x 14"H