Five-pronged Vajra (Dorje)
  See it in the Museum
Chapel
Orientation 3
Display 6

ABR 009

 Code: ABR 009

  Country: China

  Style: Yunnan (?)

  Date: 1700 - 1800

  Dimensions in cm WxHxD: 6 x 20.5 x 6

  Materials: Iron

Five-pronged vajra (dorje)

The vajra, or dorje in Tibetan, is the most common ritual object in tantric Buddhism, giving its name to Vajrayana Buddhism. Originally designating the thunderbolt, attribute of god Indra, in Buddhism it is the diamond—transparent, luminous and indestructible—like the nature of awakened mind. All vajras share the same overall structure with different elements (sphere, lotus petals, makara sea monsters, prongs) endowed with deep symbolism. In this example, two sets of five prongs spread out on either side, representing the five mental poisons transformed into the five wisdoms. Some models have one, three, seven, or nine prongs, each with a specific signification. Considered a male symbol of "skillful means" allowing to help all beings to progress towards Buddhahood, practitioners always hold it in their right hand, and it is associated with the bell, female symbol of vacuity and wisdom, held in the left hand.

This refined iron vajra perfectly illustrates the general iconography of this ritual artefact. Due to the multiple sinogrammes inscribed on the lotus petals, it was most probably produced in China. Unlike other vajra, the prongs do not meet at each end, remaining "opened", a typical feature of the wrathful vajras.