Skull, Wood from Indonesia (SKU 1165)
Wooden skull, hand carved on the magical island of Bali, Indonesia. Approximate height 5 cm. Weight: 60 grams.
Historically, skulls have been used for different purposes by man. In medieval times and even nowadays skull cups were simple reminders of human impermanence (momento mori).
In Indian shamanism (1) a widespread use of different ornaments, totem items, plants, rocks, skulls, bones etc. is common. A shaman travels between the two worlds, the world of the living and the mystical world of spirits and ghosts. In a state of trance the two worlds might melt together to form one. Totem items are used as the linking elements between the two worlds. They serve as the telephone line to the astral world. Shamans have even worn totem items as part of their clothing. Some Indian tribes believe all human beings have a totem, usually an animal or other naturalistic figure, which acts as a spiritual guide, a kind of a father figure determining a persons character or protecting the person.
In some cultures one of the shaman's duties is to bring over the souls of dead people to their final destination. In North-European shamanism the folks collected the skulls of the killed enemies in war times and gave them to the shaman. The shaman placed these skulls around his home. This way they believed that even after the enemies were dead they would have power over them and could avoid the return of their souls.
In Buddhism the skull of a murder or execution victim is believed to possess the greatest tantric power; the skull of one who has died from a violent or accidental death, or from a virulent illness, possesses a medium magical power; the skull of a person who died peacefully in old age has virtually no occult power. The vital force or potential of the skull's 'previous owner' is embodied within the bone as a spirit, rendering it as an effective power object for the performance of tantric rituals. (2)
Probably the most impressive and bizarre collection of multiple thousand sculls can be found in the Sedlec Ossuary, a chapel in the Czech Republic (3). This is an extraordinary example of a christian death cult.