This Nyingma crown – of similar shape to the Ögyen Pèd-zha crown (o rGyan pad zhva) – is an ancient Tibetan artefact. The crown, with its raven head, would have been used during empowerment ceremonies for the practices of Za Rahula (gZa ra hu la), the Raven Headed Dakini (bya rog mKha’ ’gro) and the Raven Headed Mamo (bya rog ma mo). Raven (charok – bya rog) and crow imagery occurs frequently in Vajrayana and is connected with the Dharma Protectors (chos sKyong and srung ma / chökyong and srungma), in particular with Mahakala and Mahakali.
Other symbolic imagery on the crown are the sun and moon (at the front), representing: emptiness and form; wisdom and compassion; and, the solar and lunar channels. There are peacock feathers at the tips of the points of the crown, and the brocade of the main part of the crown is in peacock blue with peacock feather ‘eyes’. The peacock is a common symbol for the transformative path of Vajrayana, as the peacock drinks poison and transforms it into nectar. The observation of the movements and habits of crows and ravens is also a means of auspicy (mo). Corvids are greatly respected by practitioners of Vajrayana, as their cry is the sound of the primordial syllable A. A Tibetan saying therefore has it that ‘It is better to take the life of a hundred monks than to take the life of one raven.’