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Old 28th November 2012, 07:06 PM   #1
Al Shamal
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Default Tibetan Item for comment

Salam,

At first i thought this might have been an old arrow head pushed inside a bone handle; however now i am thinking it may be an old craftsman's tool for leather working or similar.

The vendor advised it was from Tibet and more than 200 years old.
Any comments or thoughts please....
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Old 28th November 2012, 07:25 PM   #2
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I have no idea, but the bone is antler.
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Old 28th November 2012, 08:53 PM   #3
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my thoughts too; antler . . and in addition some of my logics; it doesnt seem very practical to me that -if it were a tool- the outer (working-)edge of the blade is decorated. This leads me to . . . assume . . .it is more a ritual instrument. Looks ancient indeed; is it iron or bronze?
Not a common seen artifact anyway; so congrats with it.
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Old 28th November 2012, 10:13 PM   #4
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Tourist shops in Nepal have many such anomalies...

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Old 29th November 2012, 02:09 PM   #5
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Shokran All,

I believe it's iron (although I am no expert in bronze items!) and also felt that it was ancient. A ritual instrument makes some sense also.

Antler ok, so I had a look for some similar pictures on-line without success...do you have any similar representations? The handle is very comfortable to grip and the 'knuckle' part fits well between the last two fingers!

Salam Spiral, so do you think it's a tourist item? I thought it to be genuine. When I visited I couldn't find anything like this. Any ideas on its use?

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Old 29th November 2012, 02:34 PM   #6
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Please forgive me if i am stating the obvious, but from the one angle the entire hilt is shot from it at least appears to be a clear depiction of a penis. If that is the case (it might only look that way from this angle) i would certainly lean towards some kind of ritual blade as since i think it would be less likely to have a sexual organ as a hilt for a work blade (i could be wrong). My first though then would be circumcision, but that is not a Buddhist practice AFAIK, so if the blade is indeed from Tibet that would be unlikely. But i still would lean towards a ritual implement.
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Old 29th November 2012, 09:58 PM   #7
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In Tantric Buddhism in Tibet, there is an extremely unusual (in western perception) funeral practice known as 'jhotar' (=sky burial) in which bodies are ceremonially placed in a specific location where they are consumed by mostly predator or scavenger birds. While details of this ritual are a bit too gruesome to elaborate on, it seems quite possible this item is for defleshing.

There is a ritual flaying knife in Tibetan ceremony which is used symbolically to 'cut through demons' or to sever worldly bonds, but like the phurbu, this is a symbolic use only implement. These knives are termed 'kartika' and usually have the vajra type pommel, but the blade is typically a lunette or crescent shape. These are usually quite ornate, like the phurbu.

While the sky burial is typically not observed by outsiders, there are some who claim the defleshing, which is done by individuals who are called 'rogypapas', uses these kartika type knives. This is disputed as this job is done by men, and the kartikas is regarded as a female weapon.

While obviously only speculation, I would submit this is possibly an implement used in this funerary task, and the decoration at the blade edge perhaps symbolically keyed. This does seem utilitarian, but with the necessary degree of appropriate symbolic gesture toward the use in this practice which is of course still reverently intended.
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Old 30th November 2012, 08:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Shamal

Salam Spiral, so do you think it's a tourist item? I thought it to be genuine. When I visited I couldn't find anything like this. Any ideas on its use?




No not a tourist item ,as in made for tourists, the Antique shops of Nepal ,{when I was there 8 or 9 years ago.] were at least half genuine antiques of many & varient types, of course the othe 50% were "modern Antiques" covered in stain & dirt & smoked for a year or two to look old.

I expect each year the antique have a higher "fresh" percentage. Still that the same of many dealers & auction houses....

Sadley I dont know what its for, The Antler is from a "Barking Deer" though, common in Nepal untill most were eaten.... I have several Kardas mounted with the same horn.

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Old 30th November 2012, 08:31 PM   #9
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If I can be cynical, here's my take:

The "blade" appears to be some form of Manjusri's flaming sword of wisdom (khadga/prajnakhadga/ye-shes ral-gri). That part may indeed be 200 years old, and who knows where it was found. You can see the remnants of the flame all around the tip. It was then mounted in a deer antler at some point. Whether the person who mounted it meant to make it more useful as a ritual item, or whether it was meant as an, ahem, art piece for those who travel, is something I'm not sure about.

My 0.0000002 cents,

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Old 1st December 2012, 08:08 PM   #10
Al Shamal
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Default Wow!

Shokran for all the comments and also the great research! I do appreciate it!
Here was me thinking it was a glorified leather working tool but I'm happy with my tantric ritual item

Salam Spiral, ya from my visit earlier this year, i think that % has increased to the high 90's now.... Interestingly after talking to some local curio shop owners there, they said many Tibetans/Chinese have been coming to Nepal to buy back artifacts that previous generations had sold to them.
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Old 3rd December 2012, 01:14 PM   #11
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May be completely wrong, yet this looks like a practical tool rather than a ritual item. Tibetans were great herders of yak, dzo (mixed breed of yak and cattle), cattle and sheep. Hides or pelts for that matter have an inner layer of fat that has to be cut off or they'll rot before they're tanned. This item does not look like it ever had sharp edges and both this fact and the very broad head makes me think this is a fleshing knife for removing that layer of fat.
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Old 5th December 2012, 11:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
In Tantric Buddhism in Tibet, there is an extremely unusual (in western perception) funeral practice known as 'jhotar' (=sky burial) in which bodies are ceremonially placed in a specific location where they are consumed by mostly predator or scavenger birds. While details of this ritual are a bit too gruesome to elaborate on, it seems quite possible this item is for defleshing.

There is a ritual flaying knife in Tibetan ceremony which is used symbolically to 'cut through demons' or to sever worldly bonds, but like the phurbu, this is a symbolic use only implement. These knives are termed 'kartika' and usually have the vajra type pommel, but the blade is typically a lunette or crescent shape. These are usually quite ornate, like the phurbu.

While the sky burial is typically not observed by outsiders, there are some who claim the defleshing, which is done by individuals who are called 'rogypapas', uses these kartika type knives. This is disputed as this job is done by men, and the kartikas is regarded as a female weapon.

While obviously only speculation, I would submit this is possibly an implement used in this funerary task, and the decoration at the blade edge perhaps symbolically keyed. This does seem utilitarian, but with the necessary degree of appropriate symbolic gesture toward the use in this practice which is of course still reverently intended.


The second image down is Jim's kart[r]ika (Tibetan gri-gug) the vajra is not shown (Tibetan Dorje). Vajra means "diamond" in Buddhist Sanskrit, but is usually mistranslated as "lightning bolt". http://tibetanaltar.blogspot.com/20...art-3-of-5.html. The traditional flaying knife (triguk) looked like this http://www.metmuseum.org/collection.../60006398?img=1, the example ends in a dorje "pommel". This sort of flaying knife was used in traditional butchery too. I looked for photos of sky burials online and found several- the knives as not show in enough detail to be sure what they look like, but they seem long and more or less straight single edged knives. The object we're trying to find out about is obviously not one of them. Tibetans like to highly decorate everything and this cultural trait is the norm as far as ritual items go. This "knife" is hardly decorated at all and seems of fairly crude workmanship. I think we need to find actual native Tibetans to tell us what it is.
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Old 6th December 2012, 11:20 AM   #13
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Salam,

I guess in ancient times everyday activities, over a period of time, can develop into spiritual, ritual or religious practices/pursuits
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