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Place of Origin: CHINA or TIBET

Date: 19th Century

Overall Length with arrows: 1130mm (40 Inches)

Reference: 347

Status: Available

Full Description:

The decorative quality and exceptional state of preservation are of especial note in this bow case and quiver.

Steel studs line the edges of the bow case and secure the front leather to the back. Enclosed within this border are lines of twisted thread dyed in a charming variety of colours – maroon, red, sky-blue and green among them – and the lower part of this patterning is interrupted by a trefoil symbol which curls in on itself made of twisted thread dyed in various shades of blue. At the centre of the case’s black-painted ground, there is another symbol made of the same thread, depicting a stylised gankyil (“wheel of joy”), the inner wheel of the dharmachakra used in Tibetan Buddhist symbolism.[1] Iron loops are fitted to the reverse for holding a red strap, the front of the case then exhibiting domed silver bosses which secure the loops in place and which have been cut to depict flowerheads as seen from above in low relief.

The quiver then is decorated mostly en suite with the case, though the symbols stitched on its central panel instead consist of a single scrolling cloud and rising basal pillar. It retains a bundle of knotted dyed fabric and a twisted cord for hanging the quiver from the wearer’s shoulder. Five bamboo arrows, likely of Manchu origin, rest neatly in the quiver, retaining much of their original fletching and some with decoration in red and black paint.

Both the bow case and quiver are near-identical to those of the armoured cavalryman[2] at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose ensemble of equipment is based on photographs taken in the 1930s and 1940s at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.[3]


Private European collection

[1] See Robert Beer, The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols, Serindia Publications, 2003, p. 209.

[3] The cavalryman is also discussed in Donald LaRocca, Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006, pp. 134-5, No. 46.


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