Crystal skull. hand-carved skull.
Quartz geode on agate and rock crystal gangue.
Dimensions 9.5cm long 7cm high 5cm wide
Weight of 0.586kg
In Asia, we find the symbolism of the skull in Buddhism and Hinduism through their religious art. Indeed, the representation of the lord of death among Buddhists, named Yama, has five skulls around his head, like a crown that indicates a victory over five defects: hatred, greed, pride, envy and ignorance. On the other hand in the Hindu religion Kali the goddess of death is adorned with a necklace of skulls.
Mahakala is almost always depicted with a crown of five skulls, which feature the transformation of the five kleshas (the afflictions) into the Five Wisdoms of Buddha.
Skulls are often found in Buddhist collars. Through this we represent again the impermanence of existence.
For example it is quite common to cross bowls made with skulls, called kapala in Sanskrit. Buddhist monks spend time looking at them to remember their temporality. It keeps in mind that death is omnipresent and can happen at any time.
The importance of the skull lies in the representation of this part of the body in many European and Asian legends. The macrocosmic representation of Man compares his skull, protector of the soul, to the celestial vault, the domain of the gods. For example in the Icelandic Grimnismal, the skull of the giant Ymir becomes the vault of heaven at his death.
In the Maya civilization in America, which originated in prehistory, belief in gods is broken down into two categories, according to a binary distinction between good and evil. One is associated with the day and sky comprising 13 deities and the other is related to the underworld of 9 gods called "the lords of the night" among which we find the god of death represented by a skeleton with a terrifying skull.
In Christian culture the morbid fatality of the skull is nuanced by faith in the afterlife and a life after death. The biblical design of the skull is illustrated by the Golgotha also known as the "skull mount" where Adam would be buried, his skull and shins being represented at the foot of the cross of Jesus. A tree could grow on this skull, a tree of life that compares Jesus to a reborn Adam.
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