Place of Origin: Tibet
Date: 15th–16th Century
Overall: 520mm (20.5 inches)
A rare kidney-shaped flanchard, this item is perhaps more elegantly described by the Tibetans who refer to it as sga’i am1 cog which, literally, means ears of the saddle. Hung at the sides, usually as a pair, they were tucked below the edges of a saddle in order to protect the sides of the horse from the abrasion of the rider’s leg or boot.
Formed of a hard piece of leather, it is decorated in two sections. The upper, lobed section is in black, with a red honeycomb or tortoise-shell pattern and has holes for suspension reinforced with brass eyelets. The lower section is a tour de force in Tibetan leather painting. Painted gold against a red background, dense clouds border a middle section of lush sprays of leafy stems within which reside two lobed cartouches, both filled with makara dragons writhing amid large peonies.
1 LaRocca, Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet, 2006, p.284.