Collection Online

Ritual staff (Khatvanga)
(18th century)

gold, turquoise, coral, copper alloy, wood
117.0 × 13.0 × 11.0 cm
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
Asian Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 2006
Gallery location
Not on display
The khatvanga is made from silver, gilt bronze and copper, inlaid with coral and turquoise. It comprises a long wooden staff, decorated with repoussé and inlaid gilt bronze bands, and topped by a four pronged vajra (a Buddhist symbol sometimes referred to as a sceptre). Above the vajra is a vase of plenty, an auspicious symbol frequently seen in Asian art. Above this symbol are three heads in progressive states of decay that illustrate three stages of religious attainment in Tibetan Buddhism. The staff is topped with a lotus-bud finial. This configuration is standard for a khatvanga. All the elements are beautifully worked, and the effect is one of an ornate, but balanced, whole.