The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of June 12, 2024



Location: not on view


A purba is a dagger-like stake with three blades that helps tantric practitioners overcome their aversions to substances that are typically considered abhorrent, like pus and blood. Pierced with the purba, the unsavory substances are ritually transformed into wondrous substances, such as nectar.

Crowning this purba are a half-vajra and three heads of the tantric enlightened being named Vajrakila, who presides over powers of transformation from wickedness to compassion. Each of his faces has been wrought of a different metal alloy in the imperial workshop of the Chinese emperor of the Ming dynasty. The luxurious quality of the endless knot motifs, the crocodile heads, and the snakes twisting down the center of each blade indicate Chinese imperial workmanship.
  • ?-1970
    (William H. Wolff, Inc., New York, NY, sold to Severance and Greta Millikin)
    Severance A. [1895-1985] and Greta Millikin [1903-1989], Cleveland, OH
    Greta Millikin [1903-1989], Cleveland, OH, bequest to the Cleveland Museum of Art
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Huntington, John C., Dina Bangdel, and Robert A. F. Thurman. The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art. Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2003. Reproduced: pp. 506-507, cat. no. 156
  • Focus: Tantra in Buddhist Art. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (May 5-September 15, 2013).
    Defining Yongle: Imperial Art in Early Fifteenth-Century China. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (organizer) (April 1-July 10, 2005).
    The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (organizer) (October 5, 2003-January 11, 2004); Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH (February 8-May 9, 2004).
    The Severance and Greta Millikin Collection. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (July 5-September 2, 1990).
  • {{cite web|title=Purba|url=false|author=|year=1403–24|access-date=12 June 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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