A large copper alloy and iron Bon purbha Tibet, 12th/13th century
Lot 5
A large copper alloy and iron Bon purbha
Tibet, 12th/13th century
Sold for US$ 179,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A large copper alloy and iron Bon purbha Tibet, 12th/13th century A large copper alloy and iron Bon purbha Tibet, 12th/13th century A large copper alloy and iron Bon purbha Tibet, 12th/13th century A large copper alloy and iron Bon purbha Tibet, 12th/13th century
A large copper alloy and iron Bon purbha
Tibet, 12th/13th century
The tripartite blade emerging from the jaws of a serpent-spewing makara below a central 'thread mansion' grip incised with yungdrung (svastika), rising to a three-sided bust of a deity holding daggers below a mythic bird (kyung), surmounted by a six-armed and three-faced deity with daggers and his consort in yabyum.
18 3/8 in. (46.6 cm) long

Footnotes

  • 西藏 十二/十三世紀 苯教金剛橛

    This fascinating, rare, and early ritual dagger (purbha), large and heavy in the hand, is wrought unaffectedly with a sense of intense, bound activity. The endless-knot grip appears to constrict like taut leather before the eyes. One can almost hear the sound. The bulging eyes of the fanged three-sided deity (cast in the 12th-/13th-century style redolent of a figure of Hayagriva, published in Rhie & Thurman, Wisdom & Compassion, New York, 1991, no. 54) seem to burst with animate energy.

    According to legend, Padmasambhava introduced purbhas to Tibet to subdue forces hostile to Buddhism. Extraordinary tales of magic are associated with them, but there are no texts to explain, and their secrets are guarded by practitioners.

    Adding to its rarity, this example belongs to Tibet's indigenous Bon religion. Key markers, in contrast to Buddhist versions of the same period – such as one sold at Bonhams, New York, 18 September 2013, lot 3 – are the absence of a vajra in the grip, the presence of yungdrung around its center, and absence of Buddhist deities. Instead, identified by his three heads, six daggers, and consort with skull cup, this purbha manifests the Bon deity Purbha Drugse Chempa.

    In his study of Tibetan ritual daggers, Huntington found only "two phur-pa of this type... during my examination of hundreds of these implements" (Huntington, The Pur-pa, Ascona, 1975, pp. 23-4, figs. 24 & 25). One is held in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. Since then, two other Bon purbhas have been identified, listed: www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=2495, and a likely third, from the same period, published in Thurman & Weldon, Sacred Symbols, New York, 1999, pp. 150-1, no. 69.

    Referenced
    HAR - himalayanart.org/items/61444

    Provenance
    Private New York Estate
    Sotheby's, New York, 26 March 1998, lot 185
    Private Canadian Collection, since 2011
Activities
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