OAs 12476

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Producer unknown to us

Ritual knife (Tri gug)

Asia, China

Prior to 1915

Copper alloy, iron

Olga Julia Wegener (art collector)

Purchased by the museum from Wegener in 1915

OAs 12476

The Kartika or Drigug is a crescent-shaped ritual knife used in religious ceremonies within Vajrayana Buddhism. Along with the Vajra, it is one of the quintessential attributes of wrathful tantric deities. The shape of the blade, with a hook-like protrusion on one side, is derived from the shape of a traditional Indian butcher’s knife, originally used to skin slaughtered animals.

It symbolizes the ritual of extracting believers from the eternal cycle of rebirths. The crooked blade represents the believers’ cutting of all worldly and material ties. At the same time, the Kartika is said to cut the veils of ignorance that obscure the believers’ path to enlightenment. The knife was manufactured in the "Chinese style."

Olga-Julia Wegener purchased the ritualistic object during her stay in China in 1912, probably in the Beijing art trade. In 1912, Wegener accompanied her husband on one of his research expeditions to China, where she acquired numerous objects of everyday life in the capital, Beijing, as well as religious objects. 

Dietmar Grundmann