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Ritual Dagger, c. 1700

Tibet or China, 1675-1725
Bronze with semiprecious stones and pigment
9-1/4 in. (23.5 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on view

Ritual daggers known as phurbu or phurpa are actually modeled after tent stakes or pegs. Usually three-sided, they are often paired with a triangular stand to hold them upright. Made of various materials, including metal, wood or ivory, such ritual objects are held by lamas to transfix demons by figuratively binding them down to prevent them from performing bad actions. The three faces at the top of the daggers represent the personified deity of these implements, Dorje Phurpa.

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