Tibetan helmet with silver visor
This item has been sold.
Dimensions

20.2 cm high
Dome 20.5 wide
Length with visor 26 cm

Weight

1002 grams

Materials

Iron, bronze, copper, silver, gold

Origin

Tibet

Dating

Bowl 15th-17th century

Finial and visor 18th-19th century

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Description

At first glance this looks like a Tibetan iron 8-plate helmet. The lamellae are of classic form, with four triangular plates and four outside plates with cusped edges. All are riveted to each other with iron rivets. Such helmets are generally believed to date from around the 15th to 17th centuries.1

However, riveted Tibetan helmets always have pairs of two holes on the outer plates because they were all originally laced. This helmet has no vacant holes, indicating that it was produced to be riveted from the start.

The helmet has a visor made of silver with copper, depicting two facing dragons reaching for a sacred jewel in the center. The visor is most likely constructed from the top of an amulet box (ga'u). (For an example, see Victoria & Albert Museum accession number IM.83-1929.) Another later addition is a gilt bronze finial consisting of a base with eight lotus leaves, from which an octagonal cross-section rod projects upwards. It widens to form a disc with eight facets, and at the very top is a lotus bud.

A Bhutanese helmet in the Metropolitan Museum, accession number 36.25.95. It has a similarly shaped visor, and the finial has a nearly identical base to ours. For other examples of lotus but finials, see Metropolitan Museum accession number 36.25.72 and Horniman Museum accession number nn18275. The latter is cataloged as Qing but is entirely Bhutanese.

 

Tibetan Warrior

Tibetan Warrior during the New Year festivities in Lhasa.
Photo by Ernst Schäfer, 1938.

The above photo shows a Tibetan warrior during the annual New Year celebrations in Lhasa. Old armor was often used during these festivities and was normally stored in votive armories in the monasteries.

 

Notes
1. Donald J. Larocca; Warriors of the Himalayas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 2006. Pages 51-82.

Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor
Tibetan helmet with visor

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Currently available:

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