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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:07 pm 
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Greetings,

I am interested in hearing about the differences between wooden and skull Damarus - be it symbolism, power, use, or what have you.

Thank you.

Best Regards,

Jens


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:25 pm 
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If you're going to use human bone implements, including skull damarus, it's a good idea to know where the bones came from...as in, what sort of person's bones you're using. With the possible exception of kanglings, though there are some "desirable requirements" for those...

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:23 am 
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I wholeheartedly agree. Judging from both the market (i.e. the fact that Tibetan bone implements are being sold without any information about the source) and conversations on the internet, mileage does vary in that regard. I certainly think your position does have merit; in terms of tradition, ethics, and in the quality of the power.

But each to his own, and I am not challenging anyone who thinks differently.

Best Regards,

Jens


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:31 am 
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The source is critical IMHO.

There are many sellers of bone implements. Obviously a skull looks like a skull and a thighbone looks like athighbone, but such things as bone malas may have come from a cruelly slaughtered animal for all we know.

Traders on eBay etc. are most unlikely to have bone implements created from the bones of lamas, any more than stuff in a street market in Nepal is likely to be genuine.

Lamas are able to bless such implements for you.

My guru's first question when blessing a mala, for example, is: 'Where did this come from?', but I've never known him refuse.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:21 pm 
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Indeed! I would say that source is quite crucial when it comes to non-bone implements as well - but for somewhat different reasons. Scripture and tradition do contain rather detailed descriptions on anything from the type of wood to shape, dimensions, "decorations", treatment of skin etc. (some info on this can be found here: http://www.damaruworks.com/damaru/damaru-qualities/) – which you don't really see in the touristy stuff. It is very much about supporting the authentic religious craftmanship tradition as well!

J.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:27 pm 
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Dharmaswede wrote:
Indeed! I would say that source is quite crucial when it comes to non-bone implements as well - but for somewhat different reasons. Scripture and tradition do contain rather detailed descriptions on anything from the type of wood to shape, dimensions, "decorations", treatment of skin etc. (some info on this can be found here: http://www.damaruworks.com/damaru/damaru-qualities/) – which you don't really see in the touristy stuff. It is very much about supporting the authentic religious craftmanship tradition as well!

J.



I think that's an awesome resource although a a bit narrow in focus (Chod) and the prices are a bit high. Just the same, I think a buyer could rest assured that they're getting the real deal and not some touristy POS.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:19 pm 
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Chaz wrote:
Dharmaswede wrote:
Indeed! I would say that source is quite crucial when it comes to non-bone implements as well - but for somewhat different reasons. Scripture and tradition do contain rather detailed descriptions on anything from the type of wood to shape, dimensions, "decorations", treatment of skin etc. (some info on this can be found here: http://www.damaruworks.com/damaru/damaru-qualities/) – which you don't really see in the touristy stuff. It is very much about supporting the authentic religious craftmanship tradition as well!

J.



I think that's an awesome resource although a a bit narrow in focus (Chod) and the prices are a bit high. Just the same, I think a buyer could rest assured that they're getting the real deal and not some touristy POS.

The prices for what you are getting through Damaru Works is actually quite reasonable.
I have a kangling from them and it is better than any I have seen offered elsewhere for sale and I thought the price was totally acceptable.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:02 pm 
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Chaz wrote:
Dharmaswede wrote:
Indeed! I would say that source is quite crucial when it comes to non-bone implements as well - but for somewhat different reasons. Scripture and tradition do contain rather detailed descriptions on anything from the type of wood to shape, dimensions, "decorations", treatment of skin etc. (some info on this can be found here: http://www.damaruworks.com/damaru/damaru-qualities/) – which you don't really see in the touristy stuff. It is very much about supporting the authentic religious craftmanship tradition as well!

J.



I think that's an awesome resource although a a bit narrow in focus (Chod) and the prices are a bit high. Just the same, I think a buyer could rest assured that they're getting the real deal and not some touristy POS.



I have no knowledge of the claimed authenticity of lineage or origin of bone, but my 'marketing' radar twitched. It doesn't make them honest or dishonest, but here's what I read into the site:

- Don't buy from India, Nepal opr China (with horror stories)
- Don't but second-hand
- Don't pay less than we charge and especially not from our competitors like potalagate. (Do Buddhists swipe at the competition?)

We source our skull from a village which we describe as being incredibly remote.

So they try to demolish the competition with some subtle condemnation, and ask us to believe that rather than source skulls from the many many practitioners of Chod in places which are easy to reach, a small village is the source (a story which you are unlikely to be able to challenge). Given the death rate in this village, why go to all that effort when there must be many available in larger areas of population?

There's another company (Zanzibar) offering kapalas etc.

If I did not already possess the items I need, I would not buy from a website. I would ask my guru if he thinks I should have one, and ask for his advice on what to buy, and ask him to use his contacts to find a genuine item for me.

The Buddhist 'market' is full of very convincing fakes. One eBay seller of thogchags and tsa tsas in the UK sells his 'authentic' items from a Lama's 'private collection' for as much as ten times the price of a similar item from a German seller whose descritpions are always accurate. I suspect both have bought and use the same moulds. The first seller also offer some magic oil and makes many claims for it. I have reported him to UK Trading Standards.

Please understand that I'm only questioning the need for all the hype, not the authenticity, as I simply have no idea about that.

If the goods are genuine and scarce, they would surely be sold out a dozen times over?

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:27 pm 
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Yeshe wrote:
Chaz wrote:
Dharmaswede wrote:
Indeed! I would say that source is quite crucial when it comes to non-bone implements as well - but for somewhat different reasons. Scripture and tradition do contain rather detailed descriptions on anything from the type of wood to shape, dimensions, "decorations", treatment of skin etc. (some info on this can be found here: http://www.damaruworks.com/damaru/damaru-qualities/) – which you don't really see in the touristy stuff. It is very much about supporting the authentic religious craftmanship tradition as well!

J.



I think that's an awesome resource although a a bit narrow in focus (Chod) and the prices are a bit high. Just the same, I think a buyer could rest assured that they're getting the real deal and not some touristy POS.



I have no knowledge of the claimed authenticity of lineage or origin of bone, but my 'marketing' radar twitched.


Your marketing radar probably twitched because Damaru Works is really being run by one person, who is a Lama, not a marketing professional.
I wouldn't recommend bone anyways. Authenticity questions or none. There are heavy imprints on bone implements and to be honest the wooden implements sold by Damraru Works are really excellent, (way better than any others I have seen for sale) and should be totally sufficient for any of us. They sound better than bone, are easier to play, and you don't have to worry about where they came from.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:12 pm 
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Nangwa wrote:
Your marketing radar probably twitched because Damaru Works is really being run by one person, who is a Lama, not a marketing professional.
I wouldn't recommend bone anyways. Authenticity questions or none. There are heavy imprints on bone implements and to be honest the wooden implements sold by Damraru Works are really excellent, (way better than any others I have seen for sale) and should be totally sufficient for any of us. They sound better than bone, are easier to play, and you don't have to worry about where they came from.


My marketing radar twitched because of the presence of quite blatant 'sales' language on the site, not the lack of it.

My other reservations about the provenance story still hold, I'm afraid.

It is not wholesome to make such negative comments about the competitiors, and even to name a specific site in doing so.

I don't know of other Lamas who engage in commerce, but some ask for donations.

The site is offputting to me. That's just my observation. Others may love it. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:08 pm 
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Yeshe wrote:
Nangwa wrote:
Your marketing radar probably twitched because Damaru Works is really being run by one person, who is a Lama, not a marketing professional.
I wouldn't recommend bone anyways. Authenticity questions or none. There are heavy imprints on bone implements and to be honest the wooden implements sold by Damraru Works are really excellent, (way better than any others I have seen for sale) and should be totally sufficient for any of us. They sound better than bone, are easier to play, and you don't have to worry about where they came from.


My marketing radar twitched because of the presence of quite blatant 'sales' language on the site, not the lack of it.


Exactly, a marketing professional would avoid that kind of pitch.
Whether or not the site is off-putting doesn't really matter. The simple truth is that the products that Jinpa is selling are better than what is being offered elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:38 am 
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Nangwa wrote:
I wouldn't recommend bone anyways. Authenticity questions or none. There are heavy imprints on bone implements and to be honest the wooden implements sold by Damraru Works are really excellent... They sound better than bone, are easier to play, and you don't have to worry about where they came from.

I'm not qualified to talk about the purpose or effectiveness of bone implements, but I do agree that wooden damarus sound more pleasant than bone ones.

...But perhaps bone damarus are supposed to sound spooky and less pleasant.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:26 pm 
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I've practiced with Lama Jinpa and am also the happy owner of one of the DamaruWorks chod drums. They are not cheap, but there is really no comparison between these and the tourist-quality drums with painted skins that are sold in Nepal and through internet dharma stores.

Jinpa is by no means a businessman, nor does he aspire to be one. He is, however, a well-trained and energetic teacher, translator and assistant to Tsewong Rinpoche. The inspiration for DamaruWorks was to provide Western chod practitioners with high quality instruments while bringing some revenue to Bhutanese artisans.

The query about wooden vs skull damarus is moot in this context anyway, since you'd need to find two skulls the size of pumpkins in order to fashion a full-size chod drum.

Chris

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Last edited by Silent Bob on Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:16 pm 
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I wholeheartedly agree with Chris, without any reservation.

Could you please delineate the role and use of skull damarus?

Best Regards,

Jens


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:07 pm 
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Hi Jens,

I found some links in Google Books which you might find helpful:

http://books.google.com/books?id=XlqeS3 ... ru&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=-3804U ... ru&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=o5drXV ... ne&f=false


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:30 am 
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I will chime in with recommendation for Lama Jinpa's Damaru Works.
The implements he offers are the real thing handcrafted with great care.
I obtained one of the kanglings for Chod practice.
I have no reason to suspect the source of the human bone used for the implements from Damaru Works.
Lama Jinpa works directly with Lama's from Bhutan.

Chod is only practiced with a wooden damaru.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:13 pm 
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Dear Luke,

Thank you! That was very kind of you.

Best Regards,

Jens


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 4:58 am 
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interestingly, in the mkha' 'gro'i gad rgyangs, a "thod rnga", or "skull drum" is mentioned twice:

the first mention is during the dancing section, as the "skull drum of equality-wisdom":

མཉམ་ཉིད་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཐོད་རྔ་ཁྲོ་ལོ་ལོཿ

and the second is during the invitation to the offering, which refers to a "great supreme skull drum":

མཆོག་ཆེན་ཐོད་རྔ་སྐད་རེ་གསངསཿ

In both of these mentions, it is clear that the drum is being played by the chodpa.

now, dAmaru only gets one mention, in the beginning, where it says you need a dAmaru to subjugate appearances:

སྣང་བ་ཟིལ་གནོན་ཌཱ་མ་རུཿ

but it does not specify what it is made of there.

If the term "skull dAmaru" (ཐོད་དཱ་མ་རུ། or ཐོད་དམ྄།) appeared, it would seal the deal, but it does not, there is either a dAmaru, or a "skull drum", so it is not clear what exactly is meant. Also, the dAmaru is mentioned in the list of necessary articles (མཁོ་བའི་ཡོ་བྱད), while the skull drum is mentioned in what are arguably "poetic" passages.

in the texts that supposedly go back to Machig herself, like the "Eight Extraordinary Chapters", the damaru is described as made from wood, either sengdeng, akara, or sandalwood, or "a fragrant fruit tree with no thorns". Ellingson, in his monograph "Explanation of the Secret Chod Damaru", says, "some texts suggest that a drum made from two human skulls (thod rnga or thos dam) may be used" but does not cite a reference, or specify how this may be indicating a large sized chod-style damaru rather than the common small skull Tantric damaru (kapalika) made from adolescent skulls. Indeed, one refers to a "Chod-dam" to distinguish it from the smaller skull damaru.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:21 pm 
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gad rgyangs wrote:
in the texts that supposedly go back to Machig herself, like the "Eight Extraordinary Chapters", the damaru is described as made from wood, either sengdeng, akara, or sandalwood


In some of the liturgies, the damaru's are also described the same (made from sengdeng).

Terma


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:54 pm 
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Another recommendation for Damaruworks here. I completely agree about the sales pitch stuff though, some of the language really gives me the car salesmen vibe. That being said it's just a matter of how I'm taking the language, everything he is saying is completely right. Most of what you can get does come from unreliable sources, you shouldn't get one second hand (unless you know the original source), and chances are you're not going to find stuff properly made at much cheaper of a price than on that site. It's not the what that was said, it's the how, but I trust the site as a reliable source. Also in regard to the damaru themselves, they do tend to be better made and apparently Lama Jinpa has been going out of his way in the last few years to teach damaru makers how to make them according to older traditions (mantras inside, skins that are naturally dyed not painted, etc.).

As for bone v. wood. While it is in no way across the board I've seen the mention of bone damarus come up mainly in regard to Bön forms of chöd, where was the wooden ones tend to be from the Buddhist systems of chöd. That could easily be an over simplification though.

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