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Ritual Dagger (Phurba): Gallery Label - Current


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The phurba is used in Lamaist Buddhism during rites to exorcise evil influences. Based on a tent peg, the ritual weapon is employed to pin down demons harmful to Buddhist thought in the process of taming and teaching them.

The early Ming emperors, especially Yung-lo (r. 1403-24) and Hsuan-te (r. 1426-35), sought the services of Tibetan lamas during their reigns and a great many missions between China and Tibet involved the mutual exchange of Buddhist images and ritual objects. Made in the imperial workshops for ceremonial use in the Chinese court or as tribute, this phurba has three blades terminating in three heads of Makara, an auspicious mythological creature. The dagger is surmounted by three grinning masks of the deity Darje Phurba each wearing a crown of three seated Buddhas.

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Type: Commentary, Gallery Label - Current
Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: March 11, 2009