Vajradaka, top part

18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, brass with turquoise inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Top part of a ritual black sesame seed burner, depicting the head of Vajradaka with his mouth wide open for the smoke to come out. See more about this deity on Himalayan Buddhist Art (, right hand side, Tibet> wrathful deities and on the Himalayan Art Resources website.


Ornate tea cups

19th century, Tibet, iron inlaid with silver and gold, private collection,

This tea cup and its lotus-shaped holder are richly decorated with a floral and foliate pattern. The lid has a turquoise finial. This type of tea set is known as dhakya.

Same, silver alloy and jade, private collection.

The lid on this one is richly embossed with dragons on a foliate background, topped with a lotus flower and a jade finial. The stand is missing.

Antique head ornaments

Woman’s head ornament, Tibet, silver, turquoise, coral, brass, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Tibetan women traditionally wore in their headdress a round silver ornament inlaid with turquoise and coral and decorated with an embossed pattern (or several). It is unusual for this object to be decorated with skulls.

Same as before, without brass.


Stupas with gems

16th century, Western Tibet, bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This reliquary is decorated with incisions including a wheel and a knot of eternity among foliage at the front of the base, a turquoise-inlaid flaming jewel (triratna) on the upper rim, geometrical motifs on the stepped plinth over the lotus, beaded festoons and pendants inlaid with turquoise above.

16th century, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A simpler design also with festoons and beaded pendants at the top.

18th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Here the artist has used tiny stone and coral cabochons, and larger lapis lazuli, coral and turquoise pieces for the moon and sun finial.