Copper Alloy Thokcha or Tokcha Tibet
circa 12th century
height: 4.3cm, width: 4.2cm, weight: 24g
or Thokcha is a term applied to small copper alloy talismanic forms worn in Tibet. The term tokcha derives from the Tibetan thog (thunderbolt) and Icags (iron or metal), so literally can be translated as ‘thunderbolt iron’ – according to belief, tokchas were formed when molten thunderbolts struck the earth and reacted forming the metal used to cast tokchas.
This example is of the popular Tibetan deity
Chagna Dorje (Vajrapani). The image has his legs apart in typical pose. His right arm holds up a vajra or thunderbolt symbol. His tiger skin loin cloth hangs from his waist down between his legs, and he wears a dramatic crown of skulls and flames.
The reverse of the image has a small lug which allowed it to be suspended around the neck.
tokchas are very worn and their distinctive features have become obscured. Others were cast in esoteric forms in any event. But this example, has pleasing wear and patina but its fine features remain intact. The image is identifiably of Chagna Dorje (Vajrapani).
Heller, A., Early Himalayan Art, Ashmolean Museum, 2008.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 1742