Tantric skull or kapala is an important ritual element in Tibetan rituals. A kapala symbolizes "impermanent". It acted as a container for consecrated liquid or 'nectar'. Not all kapala can be used however. Traditionally before one gets a kapala from his or her guru, this person must pray for an auspicious sign before sleeping. If no good signs are available, then this kapala cannot be used.
Skulls with various sections carry different meanings:
- One-sectioned skull is the most valuable because practitioners believe one-sectioned skull are those of highly realized persons such as those of Bodhisattvas. It is a 'ksaitreya' and controls of all people, land and property.
- A two-sectioned skull is a 'vaishya', it works for the king and knows how amass food.
- A three-sectioned skull is a 'brahmin', it stimulates the realisation of Mantra.
- A four-sectioned skull is a 'shudra' and thus amasses an entourage.
- A five-sectioned skull is an outcast, it is a skull cup suitable for a fierce person as it wins disputes.
- A six-and more sections stimulate illness. They are normally use in destruction Mantras.