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Staff, Scepter

Skt., danda
Tib., ber-ka, dByug-pa, hprul-gyis

Many of the various staffs, sticks, and scepters occurring in depictions of Indo-Tibetan deities are often simply named danda, a term that is rather ambivalent; i.e. not discriminating between the specific forms, shapes and symbolism associated with this attribute. Although usually made from wood, a danda is sometimes made from human bone. Sometimes, it is topped by a human skull, at other times by a vajra; in some cases by both.

The following table attempts to make things more clear and it also shows that some staffs are used as scepter, i.e. symbolic in nature, whereas others are a form of weapon comparable to the gada or club.

staff topped by a dorjevajradandardo-rje hprul-gyis
command staff topped with half a dorje and a skull
bdud-kyi khram-shing
wooden staff, weapon tipped with symbolic flames
symmetrical staff usually held cradled across the forearms (especially Hayagriva)
bone-staff, perhaps human, frequently held by Shivaasthi
staff used as magical weapon by Brahmabrahmadanda
hooked shepherd's staff of Krishnakunil
short staff surmounted by peacock feathersshikadanda
short staff topped by a trident tridandasrid-pa'i ldem-shing

See also Khakkhara, Khatvanga