Tibetan Engraved Skull

By on June 1, 2013

Tibetan engraved Kapala skull

Top view of the engraved skull from Tibet

Back view of the engraved human skull from Tibet

An engraved human skull from Tibet. The carvings are said to be done to take a curse off a family or to guide the soul of a mislead human on the right path to enlightenment.

Engraved in the forehead are the Citipati, also known as “Lords of the Graveyard.” They are depicted in the “bow and arrow” posture (elbows and knees intertwined) which refers to the highest grade of the Outer Tantra. There are seven tantric levels. 3 levels of the Outer, and 4 levels of the Inner Tantra. On the highest grade of the Inner Tantra, the skeletons would be depicted copulating.

Forhead of the skull engraved with Citipati skeleton figures

The more ornate Tibetan Kapala skulls are embellished with silver and semi-precious stones and were commonly used as a ritual bowl to drink blood out of during ancient human sacrifice rituals.


  1. Avatar

    Erudite Birdy

    October 23, 2016 at 5:45 am

    In many states in the US it is illegal to sell body parts.
    In some it is illegal to possess them.
    Then there are Federal laws too.
    Always check with a lawyer BEFORE buying any body parts.

  2. Avatar

    Leigh Sherlock

    October 3, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    I still have a fantastic,genuine fully carved Yama skull for sale
    This is an old very genuine museum grade specimen
    If anyone is interested in buying this,email me at leigh.sherlock@yahoo.co.uk
    And I will send you any amount of photos,info etc,this is not a scam or some shitty modern “kapala” which is probably some modern day rickshaw driver ,this is the genuine article,fully authentic ,very hard to date unless you have carbon dating kit but any trial is welcome ,between 300 and 700 years old

  3. Avatar

    Word of Caballera

    December 12, 2015 at 2:05 am

    You do know that the Tibetan’s are like the world’s most oppressed people right? Chances are if you happen to find an engraved human head some monk isn’t holding onto as the most sacred object they have ever owned, that a Chinese person is selling it. After over 1/2 a century of destroying monasteries, locking people up without say nor word of their whereabouts and just bulldozing people’s houses guess where the Chinese person might have gotten it from? See, no Tibetan is going to sell you their ancestor’s skull. You’ve got to be buying this stuff only from original Nazi expeditions in the late 1930’s- like the ornate example above apparently owned by a dude named Klemens Hartl- so you aren’t contributing to human rights violations and possible genocide. Bad enough that so many Tibetans lost their lives and were purposefully locked up and assimilated, but to be robbed on top of that is madness. https://tibetanholocaust.wordpress.com/

    • Avatar

      Klemens Hartl

      December 12, 2015 at 9:18 am

      It would be nice if you would leave your hate aside and not see a crime behind everything. These skulls were sold in an auction house in Vienna, commisioned by an old man who claimed one of his ancestors travelled to Tibet in the 1800s. He was a medical doctor and received those skulls in exchange for medical treatment. I showed them to tibetan monks. They liked them, but they had no value whatsoever to them, as the ritual was done after the carvings. It is just mere matter to them that will fall into dust eventually. An anthropologist working in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna who was at the time working on a project to examine the Nazi expeditions to Tibet in the late 1920s. She suggested those skulls could also come from there, just as you said. What I also found out over the years is, that skulls like that are produced in China for foreigners to this day. The huge majority of tibetan carved skulls existing on the market today are modern made in China about 15 years ago. None of the sources I mentioned are violatong human rights or contributing to genocide. So it would be nice if you do not talk about a “dude named Klemens Hartl” (which is me, you anonymous cunt) contributing to human rights violation or genocide. These claims only show that you are full of hatred while knowing nothing about that special subject in particular. Stupid asshole.

      • Avatar

        Leigh Sherlock

        October 3, 2016 at 10:09 pm

        It is very easy to tell the genuine specimens from the Chinese “reproductions” although Tibetan sky burials still occur and skulls are still used for kapalas(ritual use drinking cups) or decorative tourist pieces this doesn’t make them “fake” as such as long as they are not sold as antique pieces
        These artifacts are still genuine Tibetan ritual pieces,just not antiques
        The rare and very hard to find(thus collectable) carved skulls are called “Yama “skulls, these are much older,and I personally have never seen them decorated with the seemingly obligatory metalwork ,dragons on cheekbones,lots of tiny metal skulls etc and quite often marbles for eyes!!
        I have been studying,photographing and cataloging these for about 30 years so any information that you would like that I feel able to give you don’t hesitate to email me
        Take care and happy skull collecting

      • Avatar

        Erudite Birdy

        October 23, 2016 at 5:44 am

        When you post horrible things like you did, you don’t have any right to criticize others about anger.

        This is part of your post I find offensive.
        You can disagree without posting things like this.

        “a “dude named Klemens Hartl” (which is me, you anonymous cunt) contributing to human rights violation or genocide. These claims only show that you are full of hatred while knowing nothing about that special subject in particular. Stupid asshole.”

        • Avatar

          Klemens Hartl

          October 25, 2016 at 7:02 pm

          If you find that horrible you might be on the wrong page? The internet offers trillions of thngs to check out and you chose the thing you are offended by. You mght want to talk to a doctor about that.
          You tell me I don’t have the right to criticize, but at the same time you take that right for yourself and criticize me?
          You are obviously quite arrogant and self centered. Another example of that is that you talk about how illegal that is in some states of the USA. This piece is part of an Austrian based collection, no one cares about the laws in your country. Would be the same if some African guy would be offended and saying this is illegal in Somalia.
          Maybe you should finally accept that you can’t impose your moral standards on the rest of the world. You try that by bombing other countries, but you cant bomb the internet. It’s still free here. So use the internet for your enjoyment, and if you see something you don’t like but others enjoy, feel free to go somewhere else.

          • Avatar

            Leigh Sherlock

            October 26, 2016 at 9:54 pm

            Anyone interested in a fantastic beautify carved Yama skull any authentication welcomed
            V&A museum London are good as are the Pitt rivers people anyone interested my email is leigh.sherlock at yahoo.co.uk
            I also have some other very unusual bits and inn selling my collection as my divorce has unfortunately taken my house,what’s the good of a collection without a house !

  4. Avatar


    August 13, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Dear Collectors of The Unusual,
    *We are pleased to offer you this Incredible and Rare Tibetan Kapala.*

    *Amazing detail & workmanship! Perfect condition!*

    *Great patina!*
    *Provenance:* Old family collection formed in the 1960’s.
    *Price 4,000 USD*

    contact::: soniabrito44@gmail.com

    • Avatar

      Klemens Hartl

      August 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      THIS skull is mine and not for sale. Scam alert

  5. Avatar

    Nyima Pema

    July 20, 2014 at 11:37 am

    May I know, where, how & how much I can get it please? Thank you…

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    May 18, 2014 at 4:07 am

    please contact me

  7. Avatar


    November 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Human bones are regularly used in the rituals of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, and of all Tibetan customs, none has attracted more attention than the use of human skulls for practical and religious purposes. A whole decorated skull is called a ‘yama’ (which is also the name for the Hindu and Buddhist god of death), while a partial decorated skull is called a ‘kapala’, or a skull cup, which is made out of the upper half of the human skull. Yamas may have been carved to take a curse off a family, or to guide a misled soul onto the right path, while kapalas were used in Tibetan monasteries as offering bowls, symbolically holding dough cakes or wine to represent blood and flesh offerings to the gods. Kapalas are also associated with rituals where the user employs the cup to help reach spiritual enlightnment. Skull cups are tradiationally lined with pewter or tin, decorated with silver, brass and gems, and the bone is ornately carved with Tibetan symbols.

    • Avatar


      January 12, 2014 at 8:12 am

      Hi Edniaën,
      do you know more about yamas? I’m the owner of the skull above and several more, if you know more, please contact

      • Avatar

        Leigh sherlock

        February 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm

        Is this carved skull for sale?

        • Avatar

          Klemens Hartl

          April 19, 2014 at 5:49 am

          Theoretically. But you’d have to offer ridiculously much

        • Avatar

          Leigh Sherlock

          October 3, 2016 at 9:45 pm

          I have a beautiful fully carved Tibetan Yama skull between 3 and 700 years old ,fully authenticated
          I will send collection of photos if you send me email address and are interested
          This is museum grade,any checks by specialists welcome ,my email is leigh.sherlock@yahoo.co.uk
          If you want details/photos then e mail me anyone interested ,I have this for sale NOW SEPTEMBER 2016
          Thanks Leigh

      • Avatar

        Sue Fox

        June 30, 2014 at 12:29 pm

        Hi there I would like to find such a skull. Will you direct me to acquire one? I am a buddhist artist who photographs the dead. I would like one for my shrine and my practise. Thankyou. All great things, Foxy

        • Avatar

          Klemens Hartl

          July 15, 2014 at 4:18 pm

          Hi Foxy, send me a friend request on facebook

        • Avatar

          The Mercenary Mason

          October 31, 2014 at 10:36 pm

          Hi Foxy,

          I currently own one and I’m looking for a buyer if you are still looking for one.

          • Avatar

            Leigh sherlock

            November 1, 2014 at 10:21 am

            I am interested in buying such an item,please send me details and pictures at :
            Thanks very much

          • Avatar


            December 22, 2014 at 10:26 pm

            I am a collector of ancient Tibetan artifacts, if you know where I can locate a relic such as yours please contact me.

          • Avatar

            Leigh Sherlock

            December 22, 2014 at 11:51 pm

            I have a genuine,fantastically ornate one!!!!

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