Object Title

Crinet piece

Crinet piece


Possibly 15th - 17th century

Object Number



Purchased 1 February 1986. Previously sold at Sotheby's, New York, 20-21 September 1985, lot 29 (ill.) along with other pieces of Central Asian arms and armour now numbered XXVIA.157-160 and XXVIH.22.

Physical Description

This wing-shaped guard was worn at the left side of the horse's neck, with the straight edges forming the top and rear edges.

It is constructed from a layer of leather with a double border. The outer border is formed of a single, thick strip of leather, gilded and varnished, decorated with a gold cloud scroll pattern on the upper and lower edges, and a key-fret pattern at the rear edge. This decoration seems to have been applied in a similar way to that of other decorated leather pieces in the collection including the quiver XXVIB.141 and the bow case XXVIB.145, with gold leaf and pigmented shellac, with black painted designs.The strip is edged with thin green leather borders at either side. The stitching in evidence on the underside of the panel shows that the border is attached by leather thongs at either side, passing in and out through close-set studs. The inner border is of similar width, overlapped by the outer border, and covered with three panels of silk, woven in a swirling brocade design in orange-red, gold, blue-black and green. This border is attached in the same way as the outer one, stitched through a row of studs beside the inner edge. The central panel of the piece is covered with small, square iron scales, each with a central, riveted, domed stud butted together. Each scale is pierced at each corner with a small hole, and they are attached to the leather backing by double rows of leather thongs which pass through the small holes, and through studs, at each intersection.

When worn by the horse, the crinet was kept in place by eight leather ties attached to the underside of the panels, knotted through external studs. These studs were situated at each corner, plus one at the centre of the rear edge, and a further pair of studs spaced on the upper and lower edges. Two of these studs survive on the left neck defence, as do four fragments of the leather ties.


OverallLength507 mm
OverallWeight1362 g
OverallWidth412 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

Inside is an area of black wax, impressed with a seal, although it is no longer complete and only parts of the seal can still be seen.Underside of panel, located at front/upper corner.
wax seal

Bibliographic References

D La Rocca, Warriors of the Himalayas, rediscovering the arms and armour of Tibet, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006: 97-100, no. 26


This is the pair to XXVIH.22. The two Tibetan horse armours in the Victoria and Albert Museum`s collection (G. C. Stone, 'A glossary of the construction, decoration and use of arms and armor', Portland, 1934, p. 98, fig. 125) are closely comparable. The stud-laced plate construction is found on the shaffron of the latter (currently AL 189 9), and these crinet plates match closely the construction and decoration of the crupper and peytral elements of that armour. Carbon 14 dating on similar components of horse armour in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum have suggested a date range of 15th to 17th century.