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Tantric Female Enlightened Being (Vajrayogini) Holding a Skull Cup

A work made of silver, gilt silver, and gilt copper alloy.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver, gilt silver, and gilt copper alloy.


18th century


Central Tibet

About this artwork

This metal image represents Vajrayogini, an important tantric goddess in Tibetan Buddhism visualized by adepts to aid them in spiritual attainment. Vajrayogini’s contorted face, bared fangs, and garland of skulls evince her fearsome nature. She wears a revealing bone skirt, holds a kapala (skull cup) in her left hand, and displays a khatvanga (scepter) behind her right shoulder. The figure’s attributes and posture accord with representations of Vajrayogini in the Naropa tradition except for the unusual rosary of human heads in her right hand, which normally holds a kartrika (flaying knife).


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Arts of Asia


Tantric Female Enlightened Being (Vajrayogini) Holding a Skull Cup


Tibet (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Silver, gilt silver, and gilt copper alloy


66.1 × 46.4 × 22.9 cm (26 × 18 1/4 × 9 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Marilynn B. Alsdorf

Reference Number


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