This is one of the best examples from a small group of rare early swords from Tibet. The hilt of this sword, including its grip, is made entirely of iron that has been embossed, chiseled, and then damascened in gold and silver. The guard, just below the grip, is in the form of a stylized mask with teeth and fangs, representing a protective deity or guardian figure. Straight double-edged blades of this type are seen more often on Chinese swords, but they were also used in Tibet.
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Title:Sword (Ral gri)
Culture:Tibetan or Chinese
Medium:Iron, steel, gold, silver
Dimensions:L. 34 7/8 in. (88.6 cm); L. of blade 29 1/2 in. (74.9 cm); W. 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm); Wt. 2 lb. 2.5 oz. (978.1 g)
Credit Line:Purchase, Rogers Fund and Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 1995
[Art dealer, Europe, until 1995; sold to MMA].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Gods of War: Sacred Imagery and the Decoration of Arms and Armor," December 10, 1996–December 1997, no. 24.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 1991–2002," September 4, 2002–January 18, 2004, no. 44.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet," April 5–July 4, 2006, no. 57.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tibetan Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection," December 13, 2007–April 29, 2012.
La Rocca, Donald J. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1994–1995, Asia, Sword." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 53, no. 2 p. 77, ill.
La Rocca, Donald J. The Gods of War: Sacred Imagery and the Decoration of Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996. pp. 15, 42, no. 24, pl. 9.
Richardson, Thom. "The Ming Sword." Royal Armouries Yearbook 1 pp. 98–99, fig. 6.
Lavin, James D. The Art and Tradition of the Zuloagas: Spanish Damascene from the Khalili Collection. Oxford: Khalili Collection, May 1997. pp. 14–15, figs. 3, 4.
La Rocca, Donald J. "An Approach to the Study of Arms and Armour from Tibet." Royal Armouries Yearbook (1999), p. 122, fig. 17.
Pyhrr, Stuart W., Donald J. La Rocca, and Morihiro Ogawa. Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 1991–2002. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. pp. 47–48, no. 44, ill. (color) p. 47.
La Rocca, Donald J. Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. pp. 8, 16, 74, 146, 147, 148, 150, 152–53, 154, 216, no. 57, ill.
La Rocca, Donald J. "Tibetan Warriors: The Challenges of Presenting the Warlike Side of a Peaceful Culture." In The Universal Heritage of Arms and Military History: Challenges and Choices in a Changing World, ICOMAM Conference, Vienna 2007. Vienna: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, 2008. p. 44, fig. 8 left.
Nickel, Helmut, William Reid, Ian Eaves, Mario Scalini, Claude Gaier, Álvaro Soler Del Campo, Jean-Pierre Reverseau, Jan Piet Pyupe, Donald J. La Rocca, Jeffrey Forgeng, Jonathan Tavares, Dirk H. Breiding, Pierre Terjanian, and Ronald S. Lauder. The Armorer's Art: Essays in Honor of Stuart Pyhrr, edited by Donald J. La Rocca. Woonsocket, Rhode Island: Andrew Mowbray Inc. – Publishers, 2014. pp. 96–97, figs. 7 (color) and 8 (color detail).
La Rocca, Donald J. "An Early Tibetan Text of the Connoisseurship of Swords." In The Armorer's Art: Essays in Honor of Stuart Pyhrr. Woonsocket, Rhode Island: Andrew Mowbray Inc. – Publishers, 2014. pp. 96–97, figs. 7 (color) and 8 (color detail).
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