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Object Number



Purchased 1 February 1986. Sold at auction Sotheby's New York, 20-1 September 1985.

Physical Description

The helmet is of lamellar construction, formed of forty two plates laced together by two bands of leather lacing, and with a triple knopped finial and a peak.

Each plate is roughly triangular, with a pronounced forged medial keel. The overlapped edge is smooth, the other cut with six cusps. Each plate is pierced with ten lacing holes. The lower band of lacing is by a single strand, with simple diagonals inside; the upper band is by two strands, joining alternate plates and producing a herringbone effect inside. At the apex each plate is riveted to the finial.

The finial is made of two pieces: at the base is a flanged boss, pierced with twenty one rivet holes and bound with brass; and a cylindrical section with three knops each with moulded ridges above and below. The peak is downward poining and widens to the centre with a central cusp bordered by scallops. At the top is a horizontal flange, above which is a vertical flange whose lower half is angled inwards. The upper edge of this flange is cut with five large cusps separated by scallops. Each cusp is pierced by a rivet hole, by which the peak is atached to the skull.

The peak and finial are decorated in gold and silver hammered onto a hatched ground. The peak has on its lower section swirling gold and silver flowers, with a muli-line spiral scroll border. he horizontal section has a geometrical pattern of interlocking Y's in gold and silver. The inward angled part of the flange is decorated with muli-line waves in gold and silver, the upper section of the flange in plain silver. The lower section of the finial is decorated with gold flowers bordered by geometrical panels. The cylindrical parts of the upper section have silver hexagons containing gold six-petalled flowers.


Dimensions: Height 259 mm (10.2 in), width 173 mm (6.5 in) Weight: Weight 1150 g (2 lb 8 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks


Bibliographic References

C. Peers, Medieval Chinese Armies 1260-1520, Osprey Men-at-Arms Series 251, London, 1993: 45.

T Richardson, 'The Ming sword' Royal Armouries Yearbook 1, 1996: 95-9

D J LaRocca, An approach to the study of arms and armour from Tibet, Royal Armouries Yearbook 4, 1999: 113-132, fig. 3

D La Rocca, Warriors of the Himalayas, rediscovering the arms and armour of Tibet, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006: 73-4, no. 11


No comparable Tibetan helmet is known. The decoration is very close to that of the 'khatvanga' (British Museum 1981.2-7.1) which is Chinese, mark and period of Yongle (1403-24), and that of the sword XXVIS.295.