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Royal Guards Shield

Place of Origin: Bhutan

Date: Late 19th Century

Overall Diameter: 475mm (18 ¾ Inches)

Reference: 388

Status: Sold

Full Description:

This Bhutanese royal guard’s shield from the late 19th century is made from rhino hide which has been finished with a black lacquer and painted in red at its rolled border. A silver-coloured ad-chand (half-moon) with surya (sun) are mounted at the top to signify ‘method’ (upaya) and ‘wisdom’ (prajna), below which sit four equidistant brass bosses and a silver-gilt repoussé plaque depicting scrolling foliage and a centrally swirling flowerhead. The reverse is fitted with its original red leather pad and straps which are attached to iron rings for suspension.

A photograph taken in 1905 shows near-identical shields carried by the bodyguards of Ugyen Wangchuck, the future first king of Bhutan.[1] Two comparanda are to be found in the Royal Armouries (No. XXVIA. 107),[2] as well as in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Accession No. 36.25.630).[3] A similar shield was also published by Runjeet Singh in Arms & Armour from the East 2015, Cat. No. 42.[4]


Private American Collection

Purchased from Arbour Antiques, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1992.


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