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Fire-spoon with vajra and phoenix design

16th century-18th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Cultural origin
    Sino-Tibetan style
    16th century-18th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    blackened iron with gilding
    43.8 x 7.9 x 2.5 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Bequest of Alex Biancardi 2000
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • 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 compassion (male).

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 17 April 2001

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition