Mystery of The 300 Years Old Carved Skull

In 2011, a mysterious 300-years-old carved skull was found in an antique store in Vienna, Austria. According to Klemens (the buyer), he posted the picture of the skull in AsianArt forum to find a clue what the symbol meaning and he said, he already showed it to several experts and organizations, such as the Institute for Tibetan and Buddhistic Studies in Vienna, the Museum of Natural History Vienna and the Völkerkunde Museum. 

The Tibetan letters and most of the symbols got deciphered, however no one ever heard of a skull like that. Except one Tibetan Khenpo (Monk-Professor), who said such skulls where carved a long time ago to take a curse off a family or to guide the soul of a mislead human being on the right path. The guy who sold it to the auction house where the antiques shop got it from said that one of his ancestors used to be a medical doctor in vienna. He travelled around Tibet and also gave medical treatment to an abbot of a buddhist monastery. That abbot gave the skull amongst other relics to that doctor as a reward for his services. 

Front View (Image Credit: AsianArt Forum-Klemens)

Researchers claimed that the letters carved on the skull could possibly be Devanagari Script, reading “Om, Ma, Sa, Ma, Ta, Sa, Om, Da, Ma, Ta.” Some claimed that the script was an ancient Indian script called Ranja.

The two figures prominently carved on the skull are the Citipati, the Buddhist tradition deities in which, one is male and the other is female. 

Top View (Image Credit: AsianArt Forum-Klemens)

Another figure was a bird like figure, which is believed to be Garuda, a deity that is half eagle and half man, in Hindu and Buddhist culture. There are also serpent like structures one of which seems to be clutched by the bird-like structure, Garuda.

(Image Credit: AsianArt Forum-Klemens)

On the skull, there are several squiggly lines that could be snake-demons and it definitely looks like there is one in the clutches of the bird-like creature on the side of the skull.

 (Image Credit: AsianArt Forum-Klemens)

On the opposite side is a figure of Vajrapani, an ancient protector who is believed to have worked with Gautama Buddha. Vajrapani actually is part of a trio, the other two of which are not believed to be represented here. The first is Avalokitesvara, who represents the infinite compassion of all the buddhas, and the second is Manjusri, who represents the infinite wisdom of all the buddhas. Vajrapani represents the infinite power of the buddhas. There is also a female figure that has yet to be identified.

Finally, the space between these figures is full of Om symbols and animals that could be goats, snakes, squirrels, an elephant head, and birds. Each of these could have a unique meaning or they could collectively hold some significance.


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