Steel with gold and silver inlays; 22 11/16 x 3 1/4 in. (57.7 x 8.3 cm)
Gift of Alexander Polsky, 1985 (1985.397)
A sea monster's open mouth forms the hilt of this beautifully rendered ritual sword. Scrolling vines inlaid with gold and silver spew from the monster's mouth, surrounding its long curving tongue. Inlaid vines also run down the narrow top of the sword. In Buddhism, swords traditionally represent wisdom's ability to destroy ignorance, which is thought to be one of the negative emotions motivating the bad actions and thoughts that create the suffering of conscious beings. The handle of this sword is in the form of a vajra, a ritual thunderbolt and a motif that symbolizes boundless compassion.