Carved Tibetan Skull is a Work of Tantric Art

Carved Tibetan Skull

This amazing carved skull is alleged to be 300 years old, and come from a Buddhist monastery in Tibet. The owner posted images of the skull on a forum back in 2011 asking for more information about it:

I got this skull in March 2011 from an antiques shop in Vienna, Austria. Showed it to several experts and organizations, such as the Institute for Tibetan and Buddhistic Studies in Vienna, the Museum of Natural History Vienna and the Völkerkunde Museum. The Tibetan letters and most of the symbols got deciphered, but no one ever heard of a skull like that. Except one Tibetan Khenpo (Monk-Professor), who said such skulls where carved a long time ago to take a curse off a family or to guide the soul of a mislead human being on the right path. The guy who sold it to the auction house where the antiques shop got it from said that one of his ancestors used to be a medical doctor in Vienna. He travelled around Tibet and also gave medical treatment to an abbot of a Buddhist monastery. That abbot gave the skull amongst other relics to that doctor as a reward for his services. Allegedly around 300 years old.

The owner of the skull also pointed out the depiction, on the forehead area, of the Cittipati - the 'Lords of the Graveyard - apparently in a Tantric posture (the "bow and arrow"):

Tantric depiction on carved Tibetan skull

Anybody able to shed more light on this skull? Is it an historical occult artifact, or just a modern tourist trophy?

Link: Old Tibetan Skull, richly engraved

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pov's picture
Member since:
16 July 2013
Last activity:
11 weeks 1 day

Seems like that would be the first step. It's no exact but would give some indication of the age of the skull. As for dating when it was carved . . IHNFC :)

LastLoup's picture
Member since:
6 April 2010
Last activity:
13 hours 8 min

Skulls have always fascinated me. I have several uncarved animal skulls in my room which I use for photography and modelling for sculpture (and because animal anatomy is so damn interesting). I have seen a lot of carved skulls like this, but usually they are animals and not human. My guess is it started off as an old skull. I don't doubt the skull could be 300 years old, but the carvings look more modern. The edges look to clean for me. I wish I could see it under a magnifying glass, but there is a suspicious lack of chisel scraps and marks.

Either way it is a pretty intricate design and a wonderful find. And if you come back with this from your vacation, well, better than a mug or tote bag! Although I would have asked for paperwork to go with it. Stores like this usually do have paperwork but won't tell you unless you refuse to buy it without the information. Respectable dealers always have paperwork or their reputation would be on the line. Something to think about for sure.

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................