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ARCHITECTURE & ICONOGRAPHY

  

 

 

  kapala (skull-cup)

 

China

A kapala, i.e. a skull-cup, i.e. a ritual bowl made from a human skull, here mounted with gold. In iconography, it is used as an attribute of several Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist deities, especially in Lamaism, Tantrism and Vajrayana Buddhism, typically in their wrathful and ferocious appearances, including Mahakala (fig.), the Red Dakini (fig.), Vajrayogini, and Magzor Gyalmo (fig.), with whom it is usually filled with human blood.