dorje (Vajra)

About this object

History of use

Om Mani Padme Han, the Jewel in the Lotus, is the six-syllable mantra chanted by Tibetans to end the rebirth cycle in order to enter nirvana, the state of enlightenment. The predominant religion of Tibet is the Tantric, or Vajrayana, form of Buddhism. Tibetan art has a religious function, with a profusion of specialized ritual objects to aid the worshipper. These objects are produced by skilled craftsmen. During the ritual process a lama, or priest, would hold a vajra, or thunderbolt, in one hand and a ghanta, or prayer bell, in the other. He would unite the symbolic qualities the two objects represented by crossing his arms over his chest.

Cultural context

Tibetan Buddhist religious symbol.

Iconographic meaning

The vajra, or thunderbolt, symbolizes compassion. The crossing of the vajra and ghanta represented the enlightened mind.

Physical description

Central spoke running through two inverted crown-shaped structures, both attached at centre by a flattened globe. Each crown-shaped part has four outside curved bars with plant motifs and a plain inner spoke.