Sacred Skulls

These skulls currently for sale on Ebay by the Chinese Communist Party, sacred and often quite ancient, date back some 6000 years. Not only are skulls revered by Tibetan Buddhists, but they were made for ritual purposes by the ancient Chinese such as the Hongshan Culture, and may have been a key part of ancestor worship to represent the dead. These skulls currently for sale were taken from the grave and people’s personal possessions, not only from Tibet but from all Chinese, and it is a robbery of this ancient branch of religion as well to sell what is so little known about. The Chinese Communists have no right to sell what isn’t theirs to begin with, and to take someone’s sacred items that represent their ancestors, is without conscience.

Read more about skulls and their traditional uses in Tibet: Use of Human Skulls and Bones In Tibet, B. Laufer Curator of Anthropology, Field Musum of Natural History, Chicago, 1923

All these skulls are found on the global marketplace- mainly I’ve focused on Ebay but undoubtedly there are other outlets such as Amazon, Etsy, Alibaba, Sears Marketplace, aliexpress.com and others- where they are being wholesaled to every ignorant and unscrupulous dealer and individual in the world. As anything in life there is unequal distribution of resources- there’s always someone being greedy too- so I would think that the majority of them being sold will end up in the hands of few. The blood pools as do the skulls, so there is still a chance to recover these, like many other important archaeological and religious pieces that have also been sold on Ebay because of this phenomenon of inequality and greed.

Wood:

Apparently this is made out wood according to the seller, though it is difficult to tell through the layer of dirt.
Made out wood according to the seller, though it is difficult to tell through the layer of dirt from the grave or cave.
  • Sold August 4, 2015 for $17.91 (auction)

Metal:

skullbeadsab
Brass Tibetan Skull Bead, obviously previously used and worn, being sold as brand new en masse by Chinese

The metal skull beads above, though clearly worn with dirt encrusted in the lower lying areas and eyes, and losing some of the details of the features because of rubbing are still being sold as brand new. The same goes for the obviously well used and vintage if not antique charms below, which even have a spots of greenish rust indicating it may have been buried for a while, as well as being used.

skullca

skullcharmsaa

skullcharmsda

Worn from use and green with rust, but still repeatedly sold as brand new!! A widespread and pervasive problem with not just these Chinese sellers, but almost all of them have some issue when you look at their goods and stop taking for granted that it is new and all good.

skullcharmsdc

skullea

This style of skull pendant is very old and typically worn by monks and other religious practitioners in both Tibet and Nepal.

Search for “skull charm” on Ebay (also includes other skulls like from motorcyclists, but mainly Tibetan/Chinese in origin)

  • 31,606 on 09/20/2016 including 1,274 auctioned within 10 days
  • 32,136 on 10/08/2016 including 1,263 auctioned within 10 days
  • 33,043 on 12/02/2016 including 1,242 auctioned within 10 days
  • 32,805 on 12/17/2016 including 1,078 auctioned within 10 days
  • 30,538 on 01/29/2017 including 767 auctioned within 10 days (week of Chinese New Year)
  • 31,621 on 02/21/2017 including 1,004 auctioned within 10 days
  • 32,153 on 03/02/2017 including 1,057 auctioned within 10 days
  • 30,966 on 03/26/2017 including 1,119 auctioned within 10 days
  • 31,407 on 05/13/2017 including 1,100 auctioned within 10 days
  • 35,288 on 09/28/2017 including 1,155 auctioned within 10 days

Search for “skull pendant” on Ebay

  • 43,313 on 09/20/2016 including 2,265 auctioned within 10 days
  • 44,704 on 10/08/2016 including 2,298 auctioned within 10 days
  • 46,381 on 12/02/2016 including 2,473 auctioned within 10 days
  • 46,952 on 12/17/2016 including 2,617 auctioned within 10 days
  • 41,368 on 01/29/2017 including 1,566 auctioned within 10 days
  • 43,913 on 02/21/2017 including 2,597 auctioned within 10 days
  • 44,634 on 03/02/2017 including 2,728 auctioned within 10 days
  • 44,267 on 03/26/2017 including 2,449 auctioned within 10 days
  • 45,846 on 05/13/2017 including 2,386 auctioned within 10 days
  • 49,479 on 09/28/2017 including 2,177 auctioned within 10 days

skullhandlecb

Walking canes were often very personal items and buried with the deceased. Long ago the cane itself- of wood and bamboo- may have rotted and disintegrated leaving only the tops to be sold by the grave robbers.

A whole new meaning to DEATH METAL!

skullhandleda

Bronze Skull on Ebay

  • Sold 07/05/2015 for $19.56 by mmholg

silverskullha

silverskulljb

sipr4659ba
Skull ring freshly exhumed from the dead apparently with a layer of dirt inside and out

24kgoldskullab

24k Gold skull which may or may not be plated and/or gold, but probably is because of the high price tag the Chinese have put on them. Because of its melt-ability and malleability gold was made into jewelry and maybe even highly religious sculptures like this even before bronze was discovered. Gold also doesn’t rust and tarnish over time, making it an ideal material to use in graves. At 7.5 kilograms or 7500 grams- they weigh about 240 troy ounces.

At the current price of $1,252 per troy ounce, each one of these skulls would be worth about $300,000 in its weight in gold alone. Because they are cultural and religious relics, as well as being quite old- but its difficult to tell since gold shows little age- they are being sold tremendously short here and to the Tibetans (and possibly Chinese) who made them, a great injustice that they should even be sold at all.

Skull Boxes:

skullboxaa

  • See this auction: sold 08/04/2015 for $22.01 by mmholg
  • Another auction, same photo, same seller as previous: sold 08/15/2015 for $19.50 by mmholg
  • Another auction, same photo, same seller as previous: sold 08/26/2015 for $34.90 by mmholg
  • Another auction, different photo, same seller as previous: sold 12/17/2015 for $26.55 by mmholg
  • Another auction, different photo, same seller as previous : sold 01/08/2016 for $33.38 by mmholg
  • Buy It Now page, different photo, same seller as previous ($29.01) by mmholg
  • Buy It Now page, same photo, different seller ($46.99) by kangleshop

Usually these rings are being sold as new, but this one was too bashed up? Sold in Old-China shop next to antiques.

  • Sold 08/05/2015 (auction) for $1.54
  • Sold 08/01/2015 (auction) for $2.00
  • Sold 08/02/2015 for $0.72
  • Sold 08/03/2015 for $0.57
  • Buy It Now page ($0.99) by attjade

On top of being stolen from Tibetans and resold, these are just crappy rings to begin with. They are pot metal that has been coated and recoated with copper and “silver” (which may not be silver at all) to make wearable, but even Ebay has a warning for these types of rings on the basis of their quality alone. Many of these rings may contain lead since it is a cheaply available metal that lowers the melting temperature, making it easier to work with and pour into molds.

Tibetan Silver: A Buyer’s Advisory from Ebay

Most often these types of rings are sold as “stainless steel” and apparently Ebay just posts a warning on another page and allows the Chinese sellers to call them whatever they like. Besides selling rings as new outright that are used and show visible signs of wear, layering with another coat of metal helps to cover up signs of wear as well.

skullringthreeca

Search for “skull ring” on Ebay (also includes other skulls like from motorcyclists, but mainly Tibetan/Chinese in origin)

  • 104,579 on 09/20/2016 including 2,326 auctioned within 10 days
  • 112,466 on 10/08/2016 including 3,254 auctioned within 10 days
  • 113,486 on 12/02/2016 including 3,363 auctioned within 10 days
  • 113,303 on 12/17/2016 including 3,226 auctioned within 10 days
  • 95,740 on 01/29/2017 including 2,371 auctioned within 10 days (week of Chinese New Year)
  • 103,519 on 02/21/2017 including 2,679 auctioned within 10 days
  • 119,388 on 05/13/2017 including 2,533 auctioned within 10 days
  • 133,764 on 09/28/2017 including 2,315 auctioned within 10 days

Amber:

To say these are “amber” perhaps is an exaggeration, for the Chinese-Tibetans are masters at resins as well as mixing real amber with other additives. Though many of these skulls as sold as brand new, and so many sellers use the exact same photo would lead you to believe they are being currently mass produced, but if you look at the skulls, you can see many of the details of the face- like the teeth, have been partially polished away. Over time the surface of this material becomes cloudy like the eyes of the skull below. They’ve all been recently polished to sell, and this is why they’ve lost details. This effect is all the more clear in other vintage, antique and ancient amber pieces also being sold en masse with details that are polished clean away.

It is unknown whether these skulls were placed in tombs or held in people’s personal possession when they were robbed from Tibet, since these do show age, but no thick layer of tomb dust- but they’ve also been obviously polished recently, so perhaps they cleaned the earth off unlike other antiques that are being sold with dirt still attached.

Amber Skull

amberyellowskullba

amberskullna

Amber skull

Search for “amber skull” on Ebay (also includes many motorcycle parts with skulls)

  • 1,070 on 05/23/2016 including 47 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,128 on 08/17/2016 including 47 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,095 on 09/20/2016 including 51 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,130 on 10/17/2016 including 50 auctioned in 10 days
  • 978 on 12/02/2016 including 40 auctioned in 10 days
  • 994 on 12/17/2016 including 38 auctioned in 10 days
  • 842 on 01/29/2017 including 15 auctioned in 10 days (week of Chinese New Year)
  • 897 on 02/21/2017 including 32 auctioned in 10 days
  • 921 on 03/02/2017 including 36 auctioned in 10 days
  • 934 on 03/26/2017 including 47 auctioned in 10 days
  • 956 on 05/13/2017 including 34 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,019 on 09/28/2017 including 34 auctioned in 10 days
  • Tibetan amber skull beadsBuy It Now page on Ebay ($14.99): sold out August 2015

Skull beads made from light colored amber that may be real and unadulterated above.

Stone:

Clear Quartz Skull

clearskullja

clearskullka

Skulls, skulls, skulls!!! These carved rock skulls and those made of amber and metal weren’t just trinkets but probably served some religious function. From the time of the Hongshan people more than 6,000 years ago they have been popular, and since all of the skulls for sale that I’ve seen are all used, one has to wonder- where did they all come from? They aren’t all necessarily from Tibet, nor have they been used in the manner 0f kapalas.

Here are a couple different hypotheses’ based on my observations:

  1. The were confiscated by thousands and hundreds of thousands because everyone had one (or 20). May have served to represent ancestors?
  2. They were confiscated by thousands and hundreds of thousands because the Communists were specifically targeting these types of religious items &/or the people who might own them
  3. They were confiscated by thousands and hundreds of thousands because many graves were robbed and they may have been buried with the dead as a matter of course. They did bury carved skulls and other items back in the Hongshan days, so it very well may have carried into the present day.

crystalskullea

Search for “crystal skull” on Ebay

  • 6,195 on 08/12/2015 including 515 auctioned in 10 days (in “skulls” category)
  • 6,900 on 12/10/2015 including 667 auctioned in 10 days (in “skulls” category)
  • 40,052 on 01/01/2016 including 2,846 auctioned in 10 days
  • 36,220 on 03/19/2016 including 2,962 auctioned in 10 days
  • 35,413 on 03/29/2016 including 2,866 auctioned in 10 days
  • 40,319 on 08/17/2016 including 2,404 auctioned in 10 days
  • 40,725 on 09/20/2016 including 2,428 auctioned in 10 days
  • 41,296 on 10/08/2016 including 2,372 auctioned in 10 days
  • 43,333 on 12/02/2016 including 2,379 auctioned in 10 days
  • 42,841 on 12/17/2016 including 2,356 auctioned in 10 days
  • 37,845 on 01/29/2017 including 1,919 auctioned in 10 days (week of Chinese New Year)
  • 41,846 on 02/21/2017 including 2,605 auctioned in 10 days
  • 42,146 on 03/02/2017 including 2,645 auctioned in 10 days
  • 42,799 on 03/26/2017 including 2,902 auctioned in 10 days
  • 44,770 on 05/13/2017 including 2,985 auctioned in 10 days
  • 47,064 on 09/28/2017 including 3,301 auctioned in 10 days

Many of the stones such as crystals are being sold as brand new- there are entire shops full of such stock- but if you look closer the skulls tell an entirely different story. It is nearly impossible to say how old most crystals are because they are very impervious to age as well as decay, though the style of carving gives some clue. Below is a skull from the Hongshan Culture, which could be more than 4,000 years old. The yellow color comes from a oil they apparently put on crystal to turn it yellow, but they also invented a smelting process which colors the crystal different colors too. One of the key features that this is an older skull is that it is hollow on the inside- most of the relatively newer ones (they still could be hundreds if not thousands of years old) have a ledge for the jaw or crease, but are not hollowed out.

Below are larger Hongshan skulls that have been smelted- melted crystal- with a colorant added to make it pink. Because this was so much earlier than the first forms of glass, they must have been quite magical to own. The early Chinese used many other types of rock, but crystal was among the most revered apparently, a practice carried down through the ages by the Tibetans and even appreciated by Chairman Mao himself for its longevity and durability.

crystalskullfa

One of the other key features of older skulls are the australopithecine-like (caveman) features. The mouths tend to protrude while the forehead is relatively non-existed except for the heavy brow. Perhaps they had real skulls of early human species to model their sculptures with that have long since disintegrated, been used for medicine and/or vanished?

Australopithecus_sediba
2 million year old Australopithecus sediba fossil from South Africa named “Karabo”

skullthreeja

Crystal skull from the mouth of an eagle
Crystal skull from the mouth of an eagle
  • Sold 08/04/2015 (auction) for $46.90 by us2014_anme

crystalskullba

amethystskullbb

At just over 63 pounds, the amethyst skull above is one of the larger ones that I’ve seen.

Crystal Tibetan Kapala

Hand carved from quartz crystal
Carved from quartz crystal and encrusted precious stones- rubies and emeralds, copper and bone
  • Buy It Now page (was $3,776, went up to $3,852, then went up to 4,280 and sale ended 01/17/2016; relisted at $3638.00) by smile-shop99

quartzskullda

Alien skulls are also popular in recent times, probably just since UFO’s and Sci-Fi captured the imaginations of the public in the 1950’s and 60’s. Older skulls have quite a bit of variation (mainly with different animals or mythologial beasts on their heads like snakes, bugs, birds) however purposefully enlarged alien eyes with small noses and mouths, or elongated heads as seen above with other realistic features seem to all be contemporary carvings. Though there are many, many poor people in China, the spiritual nature of these objects and sheer numbers for sale leads me to believe they were probably taken by force from someone, and are now being sold for less than what it costs to carve them.

Lapis lazuli, one of Tibet's favorite stones

  • 290 grams Buy it now page on Ebay ($79.99): no longer listed by 05/2017, unclear if sold or? by mystones

As time went on carvings became more and more Homo sapiens like and realistically detailed and as a general rule of thumb- the more realistic it is, the more recently it was carved. The lapis skulls below, though not brand new, are relatively modern and recently carved along with most of the other stock being sold by mr_skully – but taking from the living isn’t necessarily better than taking from the dead though, and it is questionable whether one single lapis skull was ever sold voluntarily, particularly when found at these prices and in these numbers.

lapisskullga

All the auctions listed above are for skulls 1.5-2.2 inches.

Lapis lazuli is a blue colored semi-precious stone that Tibetans are fond of. Sodalite is another commonly carved and worked blue stone which is often mistakenly sold as Lapis. Though most of the known deposits are known in Afghanistan, that is not to say that there wasn’t also a deposit in Tibet by the sheer volume of “lapis” that is seen being sold by the Chinese of theirs, but then it appears they figured out a way to make synthetic lapis along with brighter turquoise and a red “turquoise” long ago- so I suspect much of what is being sold on Ebay currently, isn’t a natural stone much like the turquoise is not.

Search for “lapis skull” on Ebay

  • 753 on 08/17/2016 including 43 auctioned in 10 days
  • 730 on 09/20/2016 including 41 auctioned in 10 days
  • 700 on 10/08/2016 including 29 auctioned in 10 days
  • 740 on 12/02/2016 including 29 auctioned in 10 days
  • 713 on 12/17/2016 including 26 auctioned in 10 days
  • 652 on 01/29/2017 including 14 auctioned in 10 days
  • 702 on 02/21/2017 including 14 auctioned in 10 days
  • 715 on 03/02/2017 including 36 auctioned in 10 days
  • 725 on 05/13/2017 including 34 auctioned in 10 days
  • 745 on 09/28/2017 including 63 auctioned in 10 days
Lapis lazuli skulls for sale en masse
Lapis lazuli skulls for sale en masse
  • Buy It Now page on Ebay ($12.99)

pyriteskullca

See this auction: sold 12/12/2015 for $27.49 by checn83

pyriteskullda

See this auction: sold 12/26/2015 for $15.59 by checn83

Pyrite or fool’s gold is another item that is often carved. It is an extremely hard material to work with, and exemplifies the patience and skill carvers have.

Its really difficult to tell with the carved pyrite pieces if they are used or not, the material is very durable, which also facilitates their resale. Besides skulls, the golden material is used to carve any number of things. Some typical carvings below.

pyritependantsaa

Buy It Now page ($8.50- more than 10 available, 44 sold 12/2015) by travelever2010

Shells, popular with the ladies since time immemorial and considered auspicious since Buddha, fossilized ones are also a favorite Tibetan stone. Many of these ammonite shells- fabulously iridescent sometimes- seem to be relatively recent imports that were confiscated, then are being resold as

Ammonite Shell Skull

  • Sold July 9, 2015 (auction) for $27.50 by us2014_anme

ammoniteskullsda

skullwandaa
Wand or phurba with skull made of labradorite
Tibetan Labradorite Skull Wand
Obviously this has some wear and age, but once again these sacred items- often quite ancient- are being sold as brand new.

Search for  “labradorite” on Ebay (almost all Tibetan items or at least Chinese and used- well worn and the wear really shows because of the type of stone it is- though most stones are sold as brand new):

  • 69,906 on 07/30/2015
  • 71,682 on 08/12/2015 including 24,792 auctioned in 10 days
  • 86,110 on 12/10/2015 including 28,165 auctioned in 10 days
  • 84,241 on 12/26/2015 including 26,860 auctioned in 10 days
  • 91,114 on 03/19/2016 including 29,804 auctioned in 10 days
  • 94,334 on 03/29/2016 including 31,129 auctioned in 10 days
  • 132,079 on 08/18/2016 including 48,325 auctioned in 10 days
  • 135,041 on 09/20/2016 including 48,825 auctioned in 10 days
  • 138,016 on 10/08/2016 including 50,682 auctioned in 10 days
  • 144,561 on 12/02/2016 including 51,550 auctioned in 10 days
  • 140,401 on 01/29/2017 including 48,582 auctioned in 10 days
  • 145,306 on 02/21/2017 including 51,221 auctioned in 10 days
  • 149,746 on 03/02/2017 including 54,986 auctioned in 10 days
  • 158,559 on 05/13/2017 including 52,652 auctioned in 10 days
  • 175,072 on 09/28/2017 including 60,926 auctioned in 10 days

Search for “labradorite skull

  • 913 on 08/18/2016 including 38 auctioned in 10 days
  • 862 on 09/20/2016 including 40 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,073 on 10/08/2016 including 37 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,180 on 12/02/2016 including 42 auctioned in 10 days
  • 921 on 01/29/2016 including 36 auctioned in 10 days
  • 936 on 02/21/2017 including 40 auctioned in 10 days
  • 973 on 03/02/2017 including 67 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,526 on 05/13/2017 including 54 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,715 on 09/28/2017 including 85 auctioned in 10 days
Labradorite skull
Labradorite skull

chiefskullja

Though some might see this skull with feathers as copying Native Americans, these are the people of the bird- an important animal to them even to this day- whose relationship with them goes way back further than just a couple hundred years. Not one group of people has a monopoly on having feathers in their hair, but its a shared trait throughout humans to use feathers as adornment, and even a sign of prestige or leadership.

Horn:

Made from yak horn
Made from yak horn or possible even imported ox or water buffalo
  • Sold 08/06/2015 for $6.54

Resin:

Sold as “new” though there is obvious dirt and wear in seller’s photograhs (please see larger photos too):

Not sure if these larger life-sized replicas were sold to the public as replica’s or if they served religious functions since real human skulls may have been in short supply and still quite illegal to obtain even in China. I have bought one, they are indeed just painted resin, but the one I received did have scratches on it- through the paint to show the resin below on places you would normally expect wear, like on the bottom of the skull, and a couple scratches elsewhere like the back and furthest point out on the nose. I think it was someone’s skull before though the wear wasn’t anything more than that which could have occurred in shipping or being traded back and forth between people, and wrongfully taken- especially since they are lied about- called new and even “Egyptian” though the motifs are clearly Buddhist ashtamangala symbols: the fish, endless knot & wheel, while the butterfly is more likely a silk worm moth- symbolic of metamorphosis and rebirth;

This resin model (I think its resin at least) is of a Tibetan Kapala not

This resin model is of a Tibetan Kapala not “Egypt Human Skull Replica Resin Model Medical Realistic lifesize 1:1 Halloween” as the Chinese shop keeper wants you to believe. On the forehead there is a giant lotus, above that it an endless knot, both are Buddhist symbols as well as the wheel on the very top of the skull, not Egyptian.

Another Tibetan resin skull advertised as

Tibetan Resin Kapala
Back of the same resin skull which has not only a lot of old dirt on it, but Tibetan writing.

Another Tibetan resin skull advertised as “Egyptian” and “new”, neither of which are true as the Tibetan writing on the skull’s face will attest to. Collection of human skulls and grave robbing is closely watched by the Communist government since they came into power, so there are numerous resin models like these. That isn’t to say that they are at all new though as the Chinese sellers state, and weren’t sacred to someone.

I found this old gal (guy?) being sold as a resin replica of a real kapala. I'm not so sure it isn't real given the look of the carving and the color of the material, as well as the fact that its missing some teeth. Looks VERY real to me.

Tibetan Kapala

If you look closely at the underside of this skull, it sure doesn't look like a resin replica.

If you look closely at the underside of this skull, it looks very realistic, but the base of the skull where the spinal cord was attached is full of resin, meaning it is not a real skull. These were made with extreme care though using a real skull as the basis of the mold, and just because they are resin, that isn’t to say they weren’t considered sacred items and taken from someone against their will.

Tibetan Kapala with Guanyin

The carved image is of Guanyin I believe, the female patron saint of Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism.
The carved image is of Guanyin, the female patron saint of Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism.

Plastic:

Sold by hellsboutique in Colorado- supposedly new with tags but…

newwithouttagscoloradoaa

Often times I’ve said to myself, “But they are located in the US, or India, or Thailand, it can’t all be used stuff from China/Tibet!” But then the Chinese have a lot to cover up. Things that are distinctly Tibetan and many items made from animal parts (bone) have been moved in bulk to international dealers. And they have such a low overhead and a willingness to sell these items so cheaply, that no one else can compete with those prices, many international sellers must go somewhere else to sell their wares or go out of business.

New with tags colorado

Bones:

skullringaa

The ring above is being sold as brand new, though you can clearly see in the seller’s photograph it has quite a lot of dirt still on it. The seller is also selling it as sterling silver: “BONE SKULL FACE 925 STERLING SILVER RING 8.25” they say, however it is only silver plate. This seller is also located in India- a place where a lot of the Tibetan’s jewelry has gone to apparently, who would tell you they make it right there if asked along with the rest of their previously used stock.

skeletonandcaneaa

Kapalas (human skulls): 

“Kapala” is Sanskrit for skull. They are ritual cups used in Buddhist and Hindu Tantric ceremonies as a reminder of the temporary nature of life and the physical existence made out of whole skulls or just the top portion which is inverted and used as a cup. They are used during higher tantric meditation to achieve a transcendental state of thought and mind quicker because of the object’s power.

 

kapalaid
Though this seller states this is a deer bone cup, the suture lines (zig-zagging cracks) on the underside are characteristic of human craniums

In Tibetan monasteries, the kapala was used to hold dough cakes or wine, used symbolically as flesh and blood offerings to wrathful deities of Hindu India and Buddhist Tibet.  When symbolising blood it is called Asrk Kapala, and when with flesh it is called Mamsa Kapala. The dough cakes were not just pieces of bread, but were shaped to resemble human eyes, ears and tongues. 

The skull cup, when used as libation to gods and deities to win their favour, is usually held in the left “wisdom” hand and held in front of a deity’s heart where it may be paired with such right hand ‘method’ implements such as the vajra or curved knife.  Many wrathful deities hold a curved knife above a skull cup in front of their hearts symbolizing the union of their method and wisdom.  The Hindu goddess Kali, for example, is often depicted holding or drinking from a blood-filled Kapala. The curved knife serves as the “method” weapon that severs the life and vital organs of demonic enemies and the skull cup is the “wisdom” vessel in which the blood and organs are collected as the deity’s life source.

Kapalas were also used in rituals like higher tantric meditation to achieve a transcendental state of thought and mind within the shortest possible time, as offering bowls on the altar or as eating or drinking bowls. It was believed that the people who drank out of the skull caps would 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.” –From The practices and rituals of Tibetan Kapala skull caps, April Holloway, Ancient Origins

kapalatopaa

Made from the tops of human skulls, embellished with turquoise and coral, carved and handed down for generations, and should never be taken from Tibet for the fact they are made from human beings. Under even the best of circumstances of obtaining these skulls from people themselves and paying them, I believe that it would still be taking advantage of them and their currently impoverished state. All of these, unless in the hands of shamans and monks, should be a museum. They don’t make human skulls like this anymore, you know.

kapalatopba

  • Buy It Now page ($469.00): sold 2016 by olddtibetan

kapalaga

kapalaba

kapalaab

Though the skull above appears to be very realistic looking, when comparing with the other similar skulls for sale by different sellers it is apparent these may be a cast of the same skull over and over again. The cracks and break marks are in the same location on the skulls, though the skulls have different coloration which indicates these weren’t just pictures of the exact same item.

Skulls from younger people who died suddenly and violently are supposedly more powerful than those from old people who died from natural causes, and the sutures on the (cast) skull above- are still very clear and haven’t closed up meaning it was a young person, and the numerous breaks on the skull indicate it was broken in a number of places. Because of newer laws preventing skull robbing and Chinese confiscations of religious items throughout time, it is thought that most shamans and monks probably have today resin kapala skulls, not real ones, but the model it is cast from is still thought to impart power to the object.

This skull may be real, but has been used as a model for newer cast resin kapalas like the one below.

Other Materials:

Tibetan Wood and Turquoise Kapala

Wood and turquoise kapala above, with precious rubies and emeralds. Turquoise may be synthetic, a process of smelting rock ores invented by them more than 4,000 years ago, and made in a variety of colors- turquoise being their most favorite, but also blue and red colors. Below is a skull made from metal and inlayed using the same technique.

turquioseskullca

Number of items found in a search for “kapala” on Ebay:

  • 297 on 07/30/2015
  • 280 on 08/12/2015 including 11 auctioned in 10 days
  • 282 on 12/10/2015 including 13 auctioned in 10 days
  • 283 on 12/26/2015 including 21 auctioned in 10 days
  • 295 on 03/19/2016 including 20 auctioned in 10 days
  • 282 on 03/29/2016 including 2 auctioned in 10 days
  • 342 on 09/20/2015 including 27 auctioned in 10 days
  • 353 on 10/08/2016 including 34 auctioned in 10 days
  • 359 on 12/02/2016 including 33 auctioned in 10 days
  • 320 on 01/29/2017 including 15 auctioned in 10 days (week of Chinese New Year)
  • 361 on 02/21/2017 including 39 auctioned in 10 days
  • 370 on 03/02/2017 including 43 auctioned in 10 days
  • 382 on 05/13/2017 including 39 auctioned in 10 days

Number of items found in a search of “skull” for Ebay (does include some newer mass produced items from other locations, but way too many Tibetan items for a minority population who doesn’t have access to the internet for the most part nor can speak English):

  • 1,455,499 on 2015/07/30
  • 1,489,277 on 2015/08/12 including 27,494 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,757,490 on 12/10/2015 including 30,343 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,767,732 on 12/26/2015 including 21,596 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,781,788 on 03/19/2016 including 23,731 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,797,764 on 03/29/2016 including 22,102 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,926,963 on 08/18/2016 including 22,973 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,030,497 on 09/20/2016 including 26,494 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,115,720 on 10/08/2016 including 28,880 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,136,573 on 12/02/2016 including 25,747 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,021,433 on 01/29/2017 including 19,900 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,124,016 on 02/21/2017 including 23,063 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,133,275 on 03/02/2017 including 24,057 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,277,144 on 05/13/2017 including 23,520 auctioned in 10 days

Number of items found in a search for “turquoise skull” on Ebay

  • 15,063 on 09/24/2016 including 385 auctioned in 10 days
  • 15,487 on 10/08/2016 including 346 auctioned in 10 days
  • 16,293 on 12/02/2016 including 339 auctioned in 10 days
  • 15,680 on 01/29/2017 including 177 auctioned in 10 days
  • 15,305 on 02/21/2017 including 269 auctioned in 10 days
  • 15,045 on 03/02/2017 including 293 auctioned in 10 days
  • 14,956 on 05/13/2017 including 299 auctioned in 10 days
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