The phurba is also known as the magic dagger. In Sanskrit the name is kilaya or kila, in Tibetan it is phurba or phurpa. Phur or kila means pin or nail. The phurba is a three-sided pin that is used for Buddhist rituals. Tibetans have since long been a nomadic people so the tent plays an important role in the lives of Tibetans. Putting tent pins in the ground is seen as an act of making the land the tent is on, sacred. The shape of the phurba can be deduced from the pin that holds the tent in place.
The three-sided style of the phurba has been used since long as a Vedic tool to pinpoint offerings. The phurba has three segments on the blade. The three segments represent the power of the phurba to transform negative energies. These energies are known as the three poisons: attachment, ignorance and hatred. The three sides of the blade also represent the three states of consciousness. The handle of the phurba represents wisdom, while the blade represents method.
When used in Tibetan rituals, the phurba is often put in a bowl with rice or other grains. Phurbas can be made of wood, bone or metals like copper or brass. When more than one type of metal is used, it will always be a combination of three or nine metals, numbers that have meaning in Buddhist culture.