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Title

Fire-spoon with vajra and phoenix design


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

This long-handled iron fire spoon is beautifully decorated in gilt with an elaborate design of 'vajra' and phoenix. In Buddhist symbolism, the 'vajra' symbolises the supreme power of compassion and the phoenix symbolises the female power, and is also a clue to the Sino-Tibetan origins of this object.

The fire spoon is used as a ritual implement during 'homa' or fire-sacrifice to make oblations or burnt offerings, usually of ghee, into the sacred fire. The fire sacrifice is a ritual by which the gods may be invoked on important occasions. During 'homa' these fire spoons are used in pairs: a less elaborately designed spoon is used to pour the offering into the fire and a more elaborate one such as this functions as a receptacle; the first spoon is thought of as male and this second, regarded as female. This is in keeping with the Tantric idea of the inseparability of masculine and feminine principles - in the Tantric Buddhist context, the inseparability of wisdom (female) and means (male).

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 17 April 2001


Details


Place where the work was made

Tibet


Cultural origin

Sino-Tibetan style


Date

16th century-18th century


Media category

Sculpture


Materials used

blackened iron with gilding


Dimensions

43.8 x 7.9 x 2.5 cm


Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Credit

Bequest of Alex Biancardi 2000


Location

Not on display


Accession number

34.2000



Place

Where the work was made
Tibet

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history