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Three Hindu Copper Vessels

Written on May 4, 2009

These three, elegant copper forms are used in ritual bathing rites during Hindu pujas, the puja being  a prescribed, worship ceremony of a god or goddess.  Often a puja is done with the intention to benefit the good of a person, a family or the greater good of mankind.  These copper vessels would be filled with water and held in the hand (the middle finger resting into the center  “dimple” for balance) and the image or murthi of the god or goddess would be bathed.  Shlokas or prayers would be uttered as the idol is being worshipped.


The form of these vessels is that of the yoni, a cosmic symbol of the goddess in the form of the female generative organ–I chose these words carefully as in Hindu thought this stylized vulva form is meant to represent the flowing forth of universal life in all of its creative manifestations, both spiritual and material.   The yoni is often seen in combination with the lingam, the primordial symbol of Lord Shiva represented as a phallus, so you see that the unified yoni lingam demonstrates the unification of male and female energies.

In Hinduism, female energy is worshipped as shakti, or the enlivening energy force.


These three yoni vessels are shown sitting on a mended Japanese hemp mesh textile called a koji mushiro.  Directly under the yonis is a fabulous silk organza cloth dyed in a Japanese botanical dyestuff called benibana or safflower.  This brilliant fuchshia cloth was dyed by Kyoto’s master dyer and cultural historian, Sachio Yoshioka. I selected this rich, red color as shakti, the Hindu feminine force, is represented by the color red.

The largest of these three yonis is 14″ x 7″ x 4″/ 35.5 cm x 18 cm x 10 cm.

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