Place of Origin: SOUTHWEST CHINA
Date: Late 19th / Early 20th Century
Overall: 300mm (12 inches)
A well-formed leather armguard of the Yi or Nuosuo people (historically known as Lolo), an ethnic minority group in China which is based across the Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. The guard would generally be used to cover the wearer’s left-hand, which also held a shield, whilst the right hand would be used to wield a weapon.
A strip of red paint sits just above the rimmed base of the guard and is further decorated with three rows bordered with lines of yellow paint, each row containing a continuous band of small circles. The central trunk of the guard is undecorated, baring only the black lacquer which commonly covers Yi armour, and a leather belt is secured at the half-way point which could be fastened to adjust the tightness of the guard on the wearer’s arm. Towards the top-end of the armguard, the main section flares out, as the leather has been neatly recurved to form a brim which is painted en suite with the guard’s base. The interior – in no need of such adornments – shows the original leather surface which would have been extracted from Southern Yellow cattle (the breed indigenous to Southern China and Vietnam used to make Yi armour).
An example of similar form is preserved in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris (Inventory Number 71.1946.22.8) and another as part of a museum exhibition held in Hong Kong (Cat. No. 27), although both lack the painted decoration of our example.
(1) Mei-yin Lee & Dr. Florian Knothe (eds.), Embroidered Identities: Ornately Decorated Textiles and Accessories of Chinese Ethnic Minorities, published by the University Museum and Art Gallery at The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2013, p. 114.
Henry Bussière, Princes des Cimes, Editions Adamas, 2003
From the collection of Acher Eskanasy
 Mei-yin Lee & Dr. Florian Knothe (eds.), Embroidered Identities: Ornately Decorated Textiles and Accessories of Chinese Ethnic Minorities, published by the University Museum and Art Gallery at The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2013, p. 114.