OAs 06961

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Producer unknown to us

Ritual object (Phurpa)

Asia, China, Tibet

19th century

Bronze, cast

Hermann Speck von Sternburg (diplomat)

Purchased by the museum from von Sternburg in 1909

OAs 06961

The Tibetan word phurpa refers to a dagger-like device used for rituals in Vajrayana Buddhism. To this day, it stands for the sage-like and compassionate principle of destruction, which banishes all forces that block the path of enlightenment.

Hermann Speck von Sternburg's collection, now in the museum, comprises about 500 objects, less than half its original size. After his appointment as German ambassador to the United States in 1903, Speck von Sternburg had taken many of his pieces, which were already on loan to the museum at that time, with him to Washington, D. C., to decorate his residence. After his unexpected early death in 1909, his widow auctioned off the items in New York while the museum purchased the portion remaining in Leipzig.

Dietmar Grundmann