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Ceremonial Objects Of The Tibetan Faith, Page 4

Bone Armlet (gdu bu)áá

These carved bone figures, strung together with bone, wood, and coral beads, depict wrathful faces, meditating yogins, a lotus with a Sanskrit syllable (possibly Om), a 'Wheel of Doctrine' (dharma-cakra, chos kyi ╬khor lo), a vajra, in addition to other purely decorative elements. This piece is part of a larger ceremonial costume that normally includes bone bracelets, anklets, crown, apron, and chest plate. Such costumes were used during important tantric rituals and performances, and were ideally made from human bone. They are based on the ornaments usually associated with the wrathful (heruka) deities of the highest classification of tantra (anuttara-tantra, bla na med paÔi rgyud).

Bone Rosary (rus kyi ╬phreng ba)á

This rosary (mala, ╬phreng ba) of 108 miniature carved skulls is probably made from yak bone. Rosaries are very important religious objects for all Tibetan Buddhists, whether lay or clergy. They are most commonly used for calculating the specific number of mantras one has accumulated over a period of time. The mala or rosary may be used formally to compute the number of mantras one recites in a session of meditation, or informally as one engages in other daily activities. Whereas malas made from seeds or crystal are thought to be appropriate for practices that focus on serene Buddhas and deities, bone malas of this type are most appropriate for meditation on fierce deities. This type of rosary is not particularly common among Tibetans, and was probably made in Nepal for sale to tourists. á


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