Skull Bowl/Kapāla and Inner Offering in Old Uygur
Authors: Hacer Tokyürek
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There are many terms with symbolic value in the texts of Old Uyghur Tantric Buddhism. One of the most interesting of these terms is kapāla, meaning skull bowl. The skull bowl is a symbolic object that angry gods and goddesses hold in their left hand, the hand of wisdom. At the same time, this skull bowl is used by Kāpālikas in various offerings. These offerings are interrelated offerings, which are called bali tapıg (bali offering) and ič tapıg (inner offering) in Old Uyghur. Because blood sacrifices are prohibited in Buddhism, cakes, and cereals are often used in the bali offering. But, as expressed in the Old Uyghur example, the person performing the ritual, such as the sacrifice of the first human Puruṣa, imagines that he cuts off all his limbs from head to toe and puts them in a skull bowl. This has a fully symbolic meaning. However, there are mixtures in the skull bowl, and the most important of these mixtures is rasāyana, the elixir of immortality. The term, expressed as beš rasiyan in the Old Uyghur texts, provides immortality and staying young. Rasāyana consists of human excreta, urine, semen, menstrual blood, marrow. At the same time, this skull bowl contains five meats consisting of bull, dog, elephant, horse and human flesh. Of course, they also have various symbolic meanings. This study is about explaining the above-mentioned symbolic terms based on Old Uyghur texts.