Pair of Neck Defenses (Crinet) and Breast Defense (Peytral) from a Horse Armor

Date: 15th–17th century

Culture: Tibetan or Mongolian

Medium: Leather, iron, brass or copper alloy, gold, shellac, pigments, textile, hair

Dimensions: Left neck panel (a): H. 19 1/2 (49.5 cm); W. 22 in. (55.9 cm); right neck panel (b); H. 19 3/4 in. (50.2 cm); W. 22 in. (55.9 cm); peytral (c): H. 19 in. (48.3 cm); W. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm)

Classification: Equestrian Equipment

Credit Line: Purchase, The Collection of Giovanni P. Morosini, presented by his daughter, Giulia, by exchange; Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Funds from various donors, by exchange; and Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 1997

Accession Number: 1997.242a–c

Description

These three pieces are remarkable for their excellent state of preservation, and rank among the most elaborately decorated examples of Tibetan leather horse armor known. The vivid decoration consists of repeating patterns of stylized lotus, peony, and other blossoms in gold, set against alternating reddish orange, black, and maroon grounds. The lacquerlike effect appears to consist of a base layer or layers of pigmented shellac, the gold floral designs in gold leaf, a layer of shellac over the gold leaf upon which the details were painted in fine black lines, and a final coat or coatings of a tung oil glaze. In addition to their elaborate decoration and fine workmanship, these pieces are very strongly made and would have been fully functional as defensive armor. They, and the few examples like them, represent a high point not only in Tibetan armor making but also in Tibetan leatherwork of any kind. Carbon 14 tests on these pieces resulted in a date range of 1435 to 1665.

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