A raldi ritual sword






First half of the 20th century


Casting, chasing, forging, piercing, engraving, gilding


Bronze, iron


Length 371 mm

The ritual sword consists of a cast bronze hilt and a forged iron blade. The hilt is formed as a vajra. The short blade is forged with a central rib on each side, and its greatly expanded upper part is surrounded by a pierced curly ornament symbolizing the flame. Each rib is engraved with a curly ornament, which also symbolizes the tongue of flame. The edges of the blade and ornaments on both its sides are gilded.

COMMENT. This example is a shortened version of the ritual sword called raldi (Tibetan: ral gri; Sanskrit: khadga, literally "sword"), which in Buddhism is an attribute of Manjushri (Tibetan: Jampel), the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. In the meditative practice associated with Manjushri, the sword is imagined as a spiritual weapon, cutting through the darkness of ignorance, which is the enemy of liberation from the bonds of worldly attachments. The sword of wisdom (Sanskrit: prajnakhadga) symbolizes a method that eliminates ignorance and leads to wisdom. Similar swords, with a hilt in the form of a vajra and with a tongue of flame rising along the blade, are also associated with some other Buddhist deities, such as Vajrabhairava and Guhyasamaja.