Place of Origin: SOUTHWEST CHINA
Date: Late 19th / Early 20th Century
Overall height: 500mm (19 ¾ inches)
A well-formed cuirass 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 armour is made from the hide of Southern Yellow cattle (the breed indigenous to Southern China and Vietnam used to make Yi armour), and the chest-panel’s black-painted surface has been further decorated with borders of red paint lined with rows of arrows and circles in yellow – the interior panel filled with dotted flowerheads and painted designs (decoration repeated on the cuirass’ back). The remaining four panels are decorated with painted borders of four-petalled flowerheads and further rows of circles, and those under the chest- and back-panels are fixed with small roundels of leather tied with a band, allowing the armour to be carried on the shoulder. Leather straps secure the many sections together and reappear in density at the skirt which comprises six rows of closely interconnected lamellae lacquered with red and black paint and which each flare out slightly at their lower edge.
According to Princes des Cimes, Henry Bussière, 2003, the catalogue in which this armour was published, Nuossu society was divided into clans; central clans had armours decorated with red and yellow motifs on a black background, as we see here.
Two Yi cuirasses are preserved in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris (Inventory Numbers 71.1946.22.4 and 71.1946.22.10)and another example, on loan from the Natural History Museum, is recorded at the British Museum (Museum Number As1921,1029.1).
Henry Bussière, Princes des Cimes, Editions Adamas, 2003
From the collection of Acher Eskanasy
 (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.