Bhutanese Royal Guard’s Shield
Place of Origin: Bhutan
Date: late 19th Century
Overall Diameter: 490mm
A Bhutanese royal guard’s shield from the late 19th century. Made from rhino hide, it has a black lacquer finish, with a bright red rolled border. The natural hide texture preserved under the lacquer. Mounted with four brass bosses, and a silver coloured ad-chand (half-moon) with surya (sun) to represent ‘method’ (upaya) and ‘wisdom’ (prajna). Centrally anointed with a red tilak dot for protective luck. The rear with original woven pad, leather straps and iron rings.
Near identical shields can be seen being carried by the bodyguards of Ugyen Wangchuck, the future first king of Bhutan, in a photograph dated 1905 (see Schicklgruber & Pommaret, P.225).
A similar shield is also kept in the Royal Armouries, UK, currently on display in case 2 in the Oriental Gallery (No. XXVIA. 107); and another in the Metropolitan museum, New York (No.36.25.630) see Stone, fig.69, p53.