Kapala with silver lid in Bogd Khaan Palace MuseumVideo
In Buddhism, ritual implements are made with not only precious metals and gemstones, but also human bones including the skull and femur or thigh bone.
The religious items were used to be made in such way following to sage and high-ranking monks’ will who had made nuncupation “After my death, use my body for the sake of human beings.” In the past, the skull has mostly been used for making prayer beads and it was believed that the owner obtains the late monk’s abilities.
Queen Consort Dondogdulam’s prayer beads, being kept at the Bogd Khaan Palace Museum, have 108 prayer beads made from skull of a high ranking monk. It has four coral marker beads, turquoise guru beads, steel counter, bell and vajra. Moreover, the Museum has a varja-patterned kapala or skullcup with silver-coated inside, a varja handle and a silver lid, owned by Queen Consort Dondogdulam.
There is an old saying of elderly monks that the Queen Consort used to perform Choed with her great melodious voice. A kangling (a trumpet made out of a human femur) with grained leather guard, named ‘Gandan’ used for her Choed practice is also being preserved in the museum.
It is said that the Gandan was made out of a femur of 18-year-old girl who died in childbirth and practicing Choed with such Gandan /trumpet/ it coaxes or exorcises the supposed evil spirit. When Choed is performed after one’s death it is believed help the spirit peaceful and guide to good new life.