EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
The way I have understood it, these typically had triple 'blades' as they were traditionally developed from the common tent pegs in early Tibetan nomadic history. As these were enhanced into Tantric ritual objects, there was key symbolism attributed to the three numeric in the blades. According to some sources, the term phur means nail or peg, and in Central Tibet these are phur-pa; while in Khan, Amdo and Ladakh the term is phur-bu.
Since these are ritual objects used symbolically it is noted that they may be made from various materials, not restricted to iron or brass, some are also wood.
Probably one of the best sources for illustrations of the variations on these would be "The Phur-Pa : Tibetan Ritual Dagger" by John C. Huntington, Artibus Asiae supplement XXXIII, Switzerland, 1975. Though this one is tough to locate, I would use interlibrary services or collegiate libraries.
Another article could be found using these services;
"The Phur-Bu: The Use and Symbolism of the Tibetan Magic Dagger", Georgette Meredith, "History of Religions" 6:3 , Feb. 1967, pp.236-253
I thought I would add these resources for the readers who would like to research these interesting items further.
Since so many of these Tibetan items are being produced commercially, it is hard to determine authenticity without close hands on examination. I would suspect this one may be commercial, but seems to be somewhat older, though not necessarily antique.