A kapala (Sanskrit: "skull") or skullcup is a cup made from a human skull used as a ritual implement in both Hindu Tantra and Buddhist Tantra (Vajrayana).

Many of the deities of Tibetan Buddhism, including Mahasiddhas, Dakinis and Dharmapalas are depicted as carrying the kapala, usually in their left hand. Some deities such as the Hindu Chinnamasta and the related Buddhist Vajrayogini are depicted as drinking blood from the kapala.

Hindu deities that may be depicted with the kapala include Durga, K?l? and Shiva, especially in the form of Bhairava. Even, Ganesha, the Hindu deity adopted in Tibetian Buddism, as Maharakta Ganapati, is shown with a kapala filled with blood.

In Tibetan Buddhism, such skullcups are often ornate, having a silver lining and/or rim. Some have ornate lids.

See also


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