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A raldi ritual sword

Number

7511

Origin

Tibet

Time

First half of the 20th century

Technique

Casting, chasing, forging, piercing, engraving, gilding

Material

Bronze, iron

Dimensions

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.