Modern and Contemporary Art

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Ritual Axe, 20th century

Tibet, 20-2000
Gold metal
15-1/2 x 8-1/2 in. (39.37 x 21.59 cm.)
Norton Simon Museum, Estate of Armand J. Labbé, in memory of his parents, Gertrude and Armand Labbé
© Norton Simon Museum

Not on view

This weapon is used to cut through the fog of ignorance and to destroy hindrances to meditative contemplation, such as lack of belief, pride, distraction and inattention. This handheld weapon, an unusual battle axe with a half vajra on the right side, and a curved knife on the left, symbolically destroys the negativity created by karma. Hayagriva and his horse-headed emanation occupy the top of the axe, while the handle is formed by a phurbu, or three-sided dagger.

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