Kartika. Dakinis chopper of tantric ritual of vajrayana Buddhism (Tibetan, shingon).
Dimensions of 10/9cm.
Weight of 0.125kg
Buddhist object of worship
Handcrafted bronze in a Tibetan foundry (Gyaltran, north Yunnan)
A kartika or kartrika is a small ritual peeling knife in the shape of a crescent used in them. tantric ceremonies of Vajrayana Buddhism. It is said that the kartari is "one of the attributes par excellence of wrathful tantric deities". It is commonly referred to as the "dakinis knife." Its shape is similar to that of Inuitsulu or woman'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 the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practice of Ched.
In the same way that the bell and vajra are usually ritual elements paired in the spiritual practice and iconography of 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 form of a traditional form of the Indian butcher's knife.
Vajrayogini's representations generally contain kartika as one of his attributes. In the iconography of the enlightened dakinis and tantric female yidams, it is common to find the hooked kartika knife in his right hand and the cut of the skull in his left, representing "the inseparable union of wisdom and skillful means".
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