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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Vajra (sankosho). Made of gilded bronze.

  • Date

    • 19thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 13.9 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    The bell, kenchi (gantha), and three types of kongosho (vajra) form a ritual assemblage used in Shingon Buddhism. The bell symbolises the connection between the phenomenal and real world, its sound implying the illusory nature of the former. The single-barbed vajra represents the union of the two worlds, the three-barbed represents Buddha, lotus, and vajra, and the five-barbed Five Wisdoms and the Five Buddhas. The rimpo (cakra) was an ancient Indian solar symbol of royalty which probably derived from a throwing weapon. It was adopted into Buddhism as the 'Wheel Of The Law' and represents Dainichi Nyorai, the supreme Buddha of the esoteric Tendai and Shingon sects. The wheel has eight spokes in the form of vajra, and a central lotus symbolising Buddhist rebirth. (label copy, VH, 1998)Zwalf 1985

    In Japanese Tantrism three varieties of ‘vajra’, or ‘kongōsho’, and a ‘ghaṇṭā’, or ‘kenchi’, form a ritual assemblage. The single-pronged ‘vajra’ represents non-duality, the three-pronged the triple concept of Buddha, lotus and ‘vajra’, and the five-pronged variety Five Wisdoms and Dhyāni Buddhas. The ‘ghaṇṭā’, symbolises the connection between the phenomenal (‘garbhadhātu’) and ultimately real (‘vajradhātu’), its sound standing for the illusory nature of the former. This group is used ritually when ‘mudrās’ are performed, accompanying ‘sūtra’ readings, and the five-pronged ‘vajra’ consubstantiates the practitioner in Buddhahood.


  • Bibliography

    • Zwalf 1985 375 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G93/dc4/sG

  • Exhibition history


    2006 Oct 13-, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


Vajra (sankosho). Made of gilded bronze.



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Object reference number: JCR5592

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