The late, Third, Jamgon Kongtrul related to Norma Levine:
In a black silk hatbox in a special storeroom at the Karma Kagyu monastery in Rumtek, Sikkim (India), sits the Black Crown or shwa-nag of the Karmapas. It is a material representation of the Wisdom Crown that was offered the great yogin Korbache, by a host of dakas and dakinis when he was designated Buddha of Activity; that is, Karmapa.
The rangjung chopen (the self-luminous, ie. non-material, crown) is woven of the hair of 100,000 dakinis. The one in the box was made for the 5th Karmapa at the suggestion of the Emperor of China. He had been able to see the rangjung crown and thought it would benefit people if they could even just see a semblance of its form.
Levine explains that the benefit of the Crown is an example of tendrel which is Tibetan for "interdependent connection," and it is the term used especially for mysterious objects whose presence is marvelous. These items are understood as manifestations of buddha-energy that make powerful impressions on us via our 6 senses.
A prediction goes, that "people who see, hear, remember or touch [it] will be born near exalted beings after departing from their present life."
The Tsurphu Scroll
A new museum was inaugurated in Lhasa, Tibet by the Chinese authorities, in Oct., 1999.
Dec. 12, 2010: On the 3rd day of the ceremonies celebrating the 900th anniversary of the Karma Kagyu lineage, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, as part of his introduction to the administration of the bodhisattva vow to thousands in attendance in Bodhgaya (as well as numerous others following online,) made it perfectly clear that his leaving Tibet for India (at the end of 1999) at the risk of his life, was NOT to regain the marvelous Black Crown. "What kind of person would risk their life for a [mere] hat?"
He reminded us that Mahayana Buddhists practice for the benefit of all sentient beings without exception, and that circumstances in Tibet might very possibly have contributed to impediments in the fulfillment of this bodhisattva obligation.
Norma Levine. Blessing Power of the Buddhas: Sacred Objects, Secret Lands. Rockport, MA: Element, 1993.
tendrel: The Tibetan word meaning a is evocative of the English tendril, which refers to the small leafless parts of a plant, distinct from the stem, that emerge to coil spirally around any protuberance as a support for a growing vine. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is a word of obscure origin that appeared in the latter half of the 16th century, and an attempt is made to derive it from the French, tendre.