kartika. Dakinis chopper of tantric ritual of Vajrayana Buddhism (Tibetan, Shingon).
Dimensions of 8/9cm.
Weight of 0.065kg
object of Buddhist worship
Handcrafted in bronze in a Tibetan foundry (Gyaltran, North Yunnan)
A kartika or kartrika is a small ritual skinning knife in the shape of a crescent used in the. Tantric ceremonies of Vajrayana Buddhism. Kartari is said to be "one of the attributes par excellence of wrathful tantric deities". It is commonly referred to as the "knife of the dakinis". Its shape is similar to that of the Inuitsulu or women's knife, which is used for many things, including skin cleansing.
While the kartari is normally held in the right hand of a dakini in the iconography and spiritual practice of vajrayana, it can sometimes be seen held by esoteric male deities, such as some forms of Yamantaka. It is also frequently found in the iconography of Chöd's Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practice.
In the same way that the bell and the vajra are usually paired ritual elements in the spiritual practice and iconography of the vajrayana (one is held in the right hand and the other simultaneously held in the left), the kartika usually appears as a pair with the kapala or "skull-Cup".
The shape of the kartika, or trigug, with its crescent shape and hook at the end, is derived from the shape of a traditional form of the Indian butcher's knife.
Representations of Vajrayogini usually contain kartika as one of its attributes. In the iconography of enlightened dakinis and tantric female yidams, it is common to find the hooked kartika knife in his right hand and the skull cup in his left, representing "the inseparable union of wisdom and skillful means."
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