Place of Origin: TIBET
Date: 15th - 16th Century
Overall: 290mm tall (11 ½ Inches)
The bowl of this rare helmet is formed from thirty-two overlapping iron plates which have been attached together with rivets, the brass heads of which are visible on the external surface of the helmet. Certain features of the iron plates used here suggest that this helmet belongs to “a small group of rare multi-plate helmets made in this particular style.” The present example exhibits those features which help us to place the helmet within this important group: each of the overlapping plates (or “lames”) is formed with a raised medial ridge and fitted at the left edge with a centrally cut brass brim, and a finial with brass-brimmed base rises from the crown of the helmet, its main iron section fitted with three diagonally incised brass bands that are set between two knops.
Around the lower edge of the helmet bowl are the holes that would have likely once held a leather lining, and at its front, the helmet is fitted by a series of iron rivets with a peak that shows a decorative scalloped border at its upper edge. The helmet has gained a rich patina with time, bestowing this object with an atmosphere of history that pleasingly supplements its fortunate state of preservation (the fittings of helmets belonging to this rare type – such as the peak, finial and brass borders – are often missing or damaged).
Two comparable helmets are of particular relevance here, both discussed in LaRocca’s analysis of Tibetan arms and armour and preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Acc. Nos. 2001.53 & 2005.146). Both helmets show the same features in their construction: the medial ridges and brass bands applied to the plates, as well as the use of brass rivets rather than leather laces to attach the helmet’s various elements.
Private European collection