Inventory no.: 871

Hook of Compassion, Tibet, Buddhist


Gold & Silver Overlaid Iron Hook of Compassion (Icags-kyu)


15th-16th century

length: 19.5cm; weight: 793g

This ritual iron hook with a large eyelet at one end is overlaid with gold and silver in scrolling tendril motifs and with cross motifs about the eyelet. It is most probably based on the vajrankusa, a Tibetan ritualistic implement that in turn is based on the Indian elephant goad or iron hook used to control and steer elephants.

As a ritual implemement the

vajrankusa symbolises the ‘hooking of negativities of evil beings, and the pulling or driving off all beings out of samsara and towards liberation,’ (Beer, 2004.)

As a work of art, this hook has much presence and a superb sculptural quality.

Two near identical hooks but with differing decoration were offered at Sotheby’s New York in the ‘Indian and Southeast Asian Art’ sale of December 1, 1993, (see lot no. 251.)


Beer, R., The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, Serindia, 2004; and Sotheby’s New York, ‘Indian and Southeast Asian Art’, December 1, 1993

Inventory no.: 871