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This Tibetan skull cup, known as "Kapala" in Sanskrit, is fashioned from the oval calvarium of a human skull. It serves as a libation vessel for a vast number of Vajrayana deities. Kapalas are made from skulls that have been collected at a 'sky burial' site; an ancient Tibetan custom in which the bodies of dead monks are dismembered and scattered over open ground to give 'alms to the birds.' This ritual carries great religious significance, reinforcing the principle of Samsara, the cycle of repeated birth, mundane existence, and dying again. This Kapala has been beautifully carved, and is a fascinating example of master craftsmanship. The level of detail is truly fascinating. This piece depicts Mahākāla, a deity in Hinduism and Buddhism. Mahākāla is regarded as a protector of the Dharma, and is a wrathful manifestation of Buddha (in Buddhism), while being a manifestation of Shiva in Hinduism. The Kapala features a row of mini skulls that line the exterior rim of the vessel, and a Tibetan silver lining on the interior.


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Tibetan Mahākāla Kapala, Carved Skull Cup

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