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Pair of Brass Vajra Hair Ornaments

18th century

length: 4.2cm



private collection, London.

This pair of splendid little beads shaped as vajras or dorjes would have been worn in the hair. They are quite delightful for their fineness, complexity and overt age and patina.

The vajras have eight spokes plus a central spoke at either end.

They are constructed around a hollow tube (the central spoke of each vajra) which is open at each end to allow the vajras to be threaded.

The central thumb grip of each vajra has box settings which originally were inset with stones. In one, the stones are now completely missing; and in the other two bright red coral cabochons are still present.

The vajra is an important symbol in Mahayana Buddhism. Originally, the thunderbolt was a weapon of Indra from Indian Hindu legend. Indra became incorporated into Tibetan Buddhist lore as a disciple of the Buddha, and was transformed into the bodhisattva Vajrapani. The vajra emerged as the strongest weapon in the universe and became a symbol of universal compassion of enlightened beings.

The two beads here are not major works of art but are very attractive keepsakes for all their wear.


Beer, R., The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, Serindia, 2004

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