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Vajra Flaying Knife

Date:
ca. 15th century
Culture:
Tibet
Medium:
Steel inlaid with gold and silver
Dimensions:
L. 22 11/16 in. (57.7 cm); W. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork
Credit Line:
Gift of Alexander Polsky, 1985
Accession Number:
1985.397
  • Description

    This flaying knife (Tibetan: triguk; Sanskrit: kartrika) is styled in the Indian manner—with a long, hooked steel blade for both butchering and flaying. A vajra, symbol par excellence of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, forms the handle. The lower "thunderbolt" emblem metamorphoses into a wide-jawed sea monster (makara), from which issues the blade, finely damascened with gold and silver and displaying an interlacing floral design. Workshops in the region of Derge, Kham Province, in eastern Tibet, excelled in such fine metalworking techniques, providing the probable source for this knife.

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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
39407

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