Vajra Flaying Knife
ca. 15th century
Steel inlaid with gold and silver
L. 22 11/16 in. (57.7 cm); W. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Gift of Alexander Polsky, 1985
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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