Skull cup with lid

This Tibetan bronze skull cup was used by a ritual practitioner. Although the skull cup is in the shape of an inverted skull, it is not made from a human one. The cast metal bowl- shaped skull jaw with two rows of teeth opens and closes like a lid of a bowl. The inverted skull bowl has a tripod stand made of another set of three smaller skulls. The top of the cup lid is surmounted by a dorje (thunderbolt). Each skull cup symbolizes principles in Tibetan Buddhism which are either to combat evil such as Mara (demon god of sensual desires who tried to prevent Gautama Buddha from attaining enlightenment) or to protect the devout.

Date/Period
17th-18th centuries
Region
Tibet
Dimension
Object size: 002: L7.0 x W8.5 x H6.8 cm, Object size: 001: L8.4 x W8.4 x H8.6 cm
Accession No.
1997-03326
Material
Bronze
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Credit Line
Purchased with funds from The Shaw Foundation
Category
Bronze