Monday, April 16, 2012

Kapala Skulls

Kapala Skull Cups

Information: The very word "Kapala, translated a 'bowl', 'vessel', 'begging bowl' and also 'skull' implies already its specific ritualistic function. A kapala or skullcup is a cup made from a human skull used as a ritual implement (bowl) in both Hindu Tantra and Buddhist TantraEspecially in Tibet, they were often carved or elaborately mounted with precious metals and jewels.  In India and Tibet the skull cup is known as a Kapala, and is used in Buddhist and Hindu tantric rituals. The skull does not belong to an enemy, and indeed the identity of the skull's original owner is not considered significant, as ritual purity in death has divested the human soul from its corporeal form. Hindu deities such as Kali are sometimes depicted holding a kapala full of human blood. Many carved and elaborately mounted kapalas survive, mostly in Tibet.  These skulls are often very decorative and used for many other purposes, often containing a "Whishfulfilling Jewel" somewhere in the design to bring prosperity to the wearer. 
The purpose of these skulls were for the people who drank out of them to obtain the knowledge and personality, from the person to whom the skull belonged.  The use of a human skull as a drinking cup in ritual use or as a trophy is reported in numerous sources throughout history and among various peoples, and among Western cultures is most often associated with the historically nomadic cultures of the Eurasian steppe.   The (currently) earliest directly dated skull cup at 14,700 BP comes from Gough's Cave, Somerset, England. Skulls used as containers can be distinguished from plain skulls by exhibiting cut-marks from flesh removal and working to produce a regular lip.
Some symbolism of the skulls are as follows.  It symbolizes Wisdom), Great Bliss, Self sacrifice); its symbolism embraces the Absolute beyond all dualistic concepts; on the level of relative reality it is a symbol of impermanence. 
Some consequences on the skulls, that if they are not prepared correctly or are stolen and sold, they may bring bad karma to the wearer and could potentially ruin everything.  The skulls were often recieved by killing someone, decorating the skull and selling it to other people.  During this transmission, all those in contact with the skull would become part of the skull and receive all of the bad karma that goes along with the skull.  
My point of view on Kapala skulls, is I believe in them and truly enjoy the stories and research on these skulls.   Skulls are regarded as "karmic vessels" which contain the good and bad qualities of the dead person. The karmic force of the dead is still alive in the skull and thus will infect living beings on touch. Only with the proper religious instruction and Tantric transmission one is able to make skillful use of the power of skulls.  I recently have gotten a tattoo of a Kapala skull on my ribs, and believe it has brought me some of the best luck, and fulfillment to my life. 

(disclaimer- my tattoo is obviously not done, so don't judge quite yet!!!!)
- Jenny Robertson


  1. LOVE your tattoo, but I don't know if I could drink out of someone's skull.

  2. Your tattoo looks awesome! I have never seen a kapala skull in person, but would love to.

  3. This is an interesting post. I guess it would make sense to drink from the skull becuase that was the holder of the brain, the source of our intelligence and wisdom. And I like the tattoo; it's really cool.

  4. I'm going to be a bastard and disagree that the skull may actual have any 'power' left in it after one dies. But then again, I've never felt or consumed anything from one. Tattoo looks cool, maybe you can post another shot of the finished work. As far as your luck goes, I truly hope it stays positive and satisfactory.

  5. LOVE your tattoo, that looks adorable!

    skull shot glass