Mongolian or Chinese
Iron and gold; H. 7 1/2 in. (19 cm)
Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2005 (2005.270)
This helmet appears to date from the late Yuan (1271–1368) to the early Ming dynasty (13681644), a period from which surviving armor is very rare. The style of the decoration shows Tibetan and Mongolian influence, while the technique of damascening with flat strips of gold instead of gold wire is found on only a few other pieces. The decoration centers on a flaming mandorla engraved with the image of a seated Buddha, flanked on either side by a lotus on a leafy stalk and a large four-clawed dragon. On the back half of the helmet, two large dragons flank a flaming pearl. Other small motifs are interspersed throughout, including flames, clouds, and auspicious symbols from the set known as the Seven Jewels.