Himalayan Art Resources

Ritual Object: Kila 'Purba' Main Page

Kila 'Purba' Main Page | Ritual Objects Main Page

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Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Kila 'Purba' Definition (below)
- Deities with a Kila Lower Body
- Vajrakila Page
- Animal Headed
- Bon Religion Purba
- Hayagriva
- Mahakala
- Miscellaneous (Possibly Naxi)
- Purba Drugse Chempa
- Vajrakila
- Wood
- Wood, Black
- Meteorite (nam chag pur ba)
- Chinese Manufacture
- Dali Kingdom
- Tribal
- Confusions
- Others...

A purba (Tibetan: phur ba. Sanskrit: kila) is a three edged peg usually made from metal or wood. They are sometimes described as daggers with three blades. The best of the metal ones are constructed from meteorite iron. Sandalwood is also popular. The principal deity associated with the purba is Vajrakila. These purbas generally have three faces at the top and crowned with a half vajra. Alternately a specific type of purba is connected with the practice of Hayagriva. This purba has a horse head at the top rather than a half vajra, although it should be noted that in Hayagriva's iconographic depictions he does not hold a purba. The Nyingma lamas Dorje Dudjom and Jatson Nyingpo are generally shown with the left hand thrusting a purba downward. The Bon religion also uses the purba as a deity, Purba Drugse Chempa, and a ritual object. These can generally be identified as having multiple heads with the top crowned with a garuda - the king of birds along with a total absence of a full or half vajra. See Purba bibliography.

Jeff Watt 3-2002 [updated 5-2017]


Dagger Blessing, the Tibetan Phurpa Cult: Reflections and Materials. Thomas Marcotty. Delhi: B.R.Publishing, 1987.

Padmasambhava's Invention of the Phurpa, F.A.Bischoff and Ch.Hartmann. Etudes Tibetaines, Paris, 1971.

The Phur-pa - Tibetan Ritual Daggers, John C. Huntington. Ascona, 1975.

The Phurbu: the Use and Symbolism of the Tibetan Magic Dagger, Georgette Meredith. History of Religions, Vol. VI no. 3, Chicago, 1967

A Short Description of the Phurpa, Sarat Chandra Das. Journal of the Buddhist Society, IV, 1896, p.5.

Les Dagues Rituelles De L'Himalaya, Ritual Daggers from the Himalayas. Nicole & Patrick Grimaud. Editions Findakly, May 2017.