Vajra Water Knife
- Date: ca. 15th century
- Culture: Tibet
- Medium: Iron damascened with gold and silver
- Dimensions: H. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); W. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm)
- Classification: Metalwork
- Credit Line: Lent by Anthony d’Offay
- Rights and Reproduction: Photograph © Rossi & Rossi
A wavelike steel blade emitting from a makara (sea monster) and a wave-form hilt earned this blade the title Vajra Water Knife (Tibetan: dorjey chutri).
The makara has an elephant’s trunk and tusks, which are bizarrely paired with the jaws of a crocodile and the flowing mane of a lioness. The traditional Indian makara of antiquity has an aquatic tail, which here, filtered through the Tibetan imagination, has become a great foaming wave.
A variant of the traditional flaying knife (Tibetan: triguk), this blade is a masterpiece of gold and silver workmanship. The contrasting metals damascened into the iron surface create a ritual utensil of threatening beauty.
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art