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Bow and Arrow


Skt., capa, Tib., gZhu dang

Known in India not only as chapa but also as chapaka, dhanus, and karmuka, the bow is regarded as the (female) motive-energy of the (male) arrow. Often held by Indian gods, it is a symbol of destructive power and the bow of each deity has a different name. The bow of Brahma is known as parivita, that of Shiva is called pinaka, and that of Indra is named indracapa, with the latter one also indicating the rainbow body. An exception to the destructive symolism is the bow carried by Kama, the god


Skt., sara, Tib., mdah

Known in Sanskrit under many names apart from shara, i.e. bana, ishu, vana, the arrow is not always an offensive weapon or symbol.
In Buddhism, for example, it is a symbol for confession - meant to chase away forgetfulness of one's vows. Another non-offensive arrow is known in Tibet as gYang-sgrub mda'-dar, a symbol of good fortune that consists of an arrow with colored feathers and streamers plus a conch shell at its tip.
Some protective deities also carry a quiver filled with arrows. It is made from the skin of a tiger and is known as stag-gdong (Skt., tuna).

Bow and Arrow together are known in Tibetan as gZhu dang mDah.