Place of Origin: Tibet
Date: 19th Century
Overall Length: 305mm (12 Inches)
The creatures and deities depicted on this phurba are especially enchanting. A horse’s head surreally emerges from the long locks of the triple-faced deity Vajrakila, vanquisher of demons from the threefold world (the heavens, the earth, and the underworld). The centre is formed as three four-spoked vajra and a curved axe (kartika) incised with scrolling clouds and foliage on a cross-hatched ground. Moving lower down, the triple-winged blade then emerges from the gaping mouth of a fierce makara.
The phurba (kila in Sanskrit) is an implement of power and magic and its origins can be traced back to the ancient Hindu text the Rigveda, believed to be the world’s oldest religious writing. Within the text there is an account of the god Indra slaying the serpent Vrita, thus allowing the world to emerge into existence. As the earth floated on the primeval waters with the sky lying flat upon it, Indra stabilised it and propped up the heavens with a mythical mountain named Indrakila (Indra’s Peg). Within Buddhism the phurba is used in rituals, especially in the practice of Dzokchen—the main system of meditation, philosophy, and ritual of the Nyingma lineage of Buddhism in Tibet.