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Fine 19th C. Silver Eastern Tibet Bhutan Short Sword with symbols of the Ashtamanglaa

( ID: cs1199 )

A fine example of a Bhutan short sword mounted entirely in heavy chased and repoussed silver. The design is commensurate with quality workmanship of the 19th C. and features the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism known as the Ashtamangala.

These are the eight symbols of good fortune, emblems of Buddhism and the path to enlightenment which often appear in Buddhist art, individually or as a single intertwined form.  Here they are found in order from the handle to the pommel and include:

1 - Wheel or Chakra. Symbol of the Buddha and absolute completeness.

Known in Tibetan as ‘ridag choekor’, this motif is seen over the entrance to virtually all monasteries - as a symbol of energy, occult powers and the unity of all things. Often depicted with two deer either side of the chakra remembering the first sermon of Sakyamuni Buddha at a Deer Park at Sarnath, India, where the wheel of Buddhist teachings was set in motion.

Vishnu, one of the Hindu trinity, holds a chakra in one hand as does Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu.

2 - Conch shell. The trumpet of victory.

The conch is a symbol of Buddhas fame, associated with the primeval, the origin of elements and represents the spoken word.

Known as sankha in Sanskrit or dun’ in Tibetan, the white and right turning shell is less commonly found than left turning & considered sacred so is also used on altars for offering incense.

3 - Lotus flower. Symbolises purity of body, speech and mind.

4 - Parasol. The umbrella symbolises protection on many levels, physical and spiritual.

5 - Fish. The two golden fish represent spiritual liberation and fertility.

The fish symbol is known in Sanskrit as matsya or gser-na in Tibetan, traditionally in Hindu mythology fish represent the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in north India and later simply water in general.

6 - Vase. The treasure pot symbolises wish fulfillment - health, wealth and longevity.

The Urn of Wisdom contains Amrit, life-giving water or the elixir of immortality.

Known as kalasha or bhumpa in Tibetan, Lakshmi the Hindu goddess of wealth holds a kalash in one of her hands.

7 - Banner. Represents the victory of good over evil.

8 - Eternal knot. Represents the connection between wisdom and compassion, an emblem of love.

The knot symbolism, or palbhen in Tibetan, has reference to tantra and magical ritual, to ancestors and the Buddhist teachings of the Doctrine of Interpenetration.

Overall length is 22".  The blade is a powerfully made and has been polished over the years but likely displays a hairpin damascus pattern common to Bhutanese blades of this form.

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