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Place of Origin: TIBET

Date: 14th - 16th Century (Mirror 19th Century)

Overall Diameter: 850mm (33 ½ Inches)

Reference: 353

Status: Sold

Full Description:

This large domed cane shield comes from Tibet and exhibits a 19th-century Buddhist mirror at its centre. The outer surface of the shield is painted with six black diamond-shapes set against a red background. Such shields can be seen in a photograph of armoured cavalrymen in Tibet taken circa 1903-4,[1] and another such shield – photographed by Steven Kossak in 2001 – is shown hanging on a column in Drepung monastery, Tibet.[2]

The mirror is of typical construction, with a slightly convex central iron disc which represents the ‘mirror’. This is surrounded by an elaborate applied copper border embossed with complex scrollwork on a stippled background, richly gilded though with some losses to certain highlights. Mirrors (called me-long in Tibetan), such as the one applied to this shield, play an important role in Tibetan Buddhist ritual. They are used in the consecration of thangka paintings and, as in this case, are sometimes mounted on shields, perhaps to be hung in the chapels of a protective deity (gongkhang), where arms and armour were often displayed as votive objects.

This shield comes from the same collection as the four-mirror armour just previously described in this catalogue (Cat. No. 18).


Private collection, USA.

[1] Laurence Austine Waddell, Lhasa and its Mysteries (With a Record of the Expedition of 1903-4), London, 1906, p. 172.

[2] Donald LaRocca, Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006, p. 13, fig. 14.


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