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Purchased 17 March 1986. Brought back from China by a French missionary early in the 20th century.

Physical Description

Made of leather, of ovoid form with a gentle dip in the centre of the upper edge. The edge is bordered with an iron band, turned over the edge and cut with lobes inside and out by which it is riveted to the shield. At the centre of the upper edge is a crescent-shaped iron reinforcing plate, fitted under the rim and attached by three rivets. Across the outside of the shield are three reinforcing bars of iron, folded inside the shield at either end and secured by two, three and two staples.

The shield is decorated with a red laquered border and open central circle on a gold lacquered ground, separated by black lines. The red bands are decorated with continuous cloud scrolls around the centre and bottom, with auspicious emblems across the top and sides, all executed in dark lacquer with silver flecks. Depending on interpretation, these designs appear to be stylised representations of the lotus flower, the endless knot, the conch, the fish, a pearl (?), the parasol, a bowl or treasure vase, a lamp or bumpa (ritual vase with a spout), a victory banner, a medallion which could potentially be representing the wheel or the visva vajra, and two crossed knives or swords (although in the context of auspicious symbols these may also be intended to represent a pair of rhinoceros horns). The inside of the shield is a light tan colour.

The shield is fitted with a series of leather straps passing through four holes around the centre, and terminating at the outside in decorative tassels. Inside, the straps comprise a plain loop at the upper front, and long straps joining the two lower holes and the lower front and upper rear, each knotted to provide a neck strap and two arm loops. The shield is intended to be suspended from the neck and hang high on the left arm.



OverallHeight480 mm
OverallWeight1.87 kg
OverallWidth630 mm

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