tibetan skull carving

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Tibetan Ceremonial Skulls.

Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism uses human bones and skulls in particular for a number of rituals and ceremonies. The skulls can be simply carved or also decorated with silver, bronze and semi-precious stones. A whole skull is called a “yama”, while a cup obtained from the upper half of it is called a “kapala”.

Yamas are used to take a curse off a family or to guide souls in the nether world. They get their name from the Hindu god of death Yama.

Kapalas are usually filled with offerings of wine and dough (in the shape of ears, eyes and tongues), symbolising the blood and flesh, in order to pacify angry deities. They are also used in rituals aimed at obtaining spiritual enlightenment. 

300 year old Tibetan carved skulls. There are 2 dancing skeletons on the forehead which symbolize “Dharma protectors” meaning Buddhas teaching guardians. The bird looking creature on the side is Garuda, and is said to protect and conquer any nagas (demons) that challenge him. 

On the back is a stupa which have so many hidden meanings that you can just google if you are interested. On the left side of the skull we have some I believe is Varjapani. Varjapani is a wrathful loving protector. And on the top of the skull we have a Double Vajra Cross, which stands for the Buddha family. (Source)