A digug ritual knife






19th century


Casting, chasing, gilding, carving


Silver, rock crystal


Length 153 mm; width 111 mm

The ritual knife consists of a partially gilt silver handle and a thick blade carved from quartz. The middle part of the handle has the shape of a flattened ball, and the base is made in the form of a dragon's head with a wide open mouth. Both tips of the blade are slightly bent down, making it resemble a boat in shape.

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. Probably, a quartz blade is designed to increase the strength of the presented example. Buddhists have great respect for this mineral. They call transparent quartz (rock crystal) "visible nonexistence", and smoky quartz (rauhtopaz) is considered Buddha stone.