A digug ritual knife




Tibet (or Nepal)


Early 20th century


Casting, chasing, gem-setting


Bronze, turquoise, corals


Length 94 mm; width 90 mm

The ritual knife is entirely cast from bronze. The blade on both sides is covered with flat pieces of turquoise, and the middle part of the handle by flat pieces of coral. In addition, each side of the blade is decorated with two round turquoise cabochons and one drop-shaped coral cabochon, which form the symbol of the "three jewels" or triratna (Tibetan: dkon mchog gsum).

COMMENT. Digug (Tibetan: gri gug; Sanskrit: kartika, kartri, katari) is a small ritual knife or cutter, which is an attribute of some angry deities (dharmapalas) and female demonic spirits (dakinis) in Tibetan Buddhism. It traditionally consists of a crescent-shaped blade and a transverse handle in the form of a half of a vajra (Tibetan: rdo rje), which symbolizes toughness and indestructibility. One tip of the blade is usually bent down, which gives the edge an S-shape. The digug descended from knives that were used to peel animal carcasses. In Buddhism, it symbolizes liberation from everything that binds a person to an unrighteous life by decisively cutting off, abandoning sinful thoughts and evil impulses.