This set of saddle plates represents a high point in the medium of pierced ironwork, equaling or excelling anything of its type. Each plate is chiseled from a single piece of iron. The long, thin four-clawed dragons, carved in high relief in great detail, are cut entirely free from the surrounding scrollwork ground so that they can move slightly within it. The scroll patterns are undercut to give the appearance of depth and overlap, in addition to the areas where the bodies of the dragons actually do overlap. There is a Wish-Granting Jewel motif made with pieces of blue and green turquoise set in shaped compartments in the center of both the pommel and the cantle, and scattered lotus blossoms made in the same way. The outer edges of the plates are bordered by rows of semicircular pieces of lapis. The iron surfaces of the plates are damascened completely with gold foil, and the precision and fineness of the cross-hatching beneath the gold are exceptional.
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Title:Set of Saddle Plates
Culture:Tibetan or Chinese
Medium:Iron, gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise
Dimensions:H. 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm); L. 23 1/2 in. (59.7 cm); W. 13 3/4 in. (34.9 cm); Wt. with mount 14 lb. 15.2 oz. (6780g)
Credit Line:Purchase, Gift of William H. Riggs, by exchange, and Kenneth and Vivian Lam Gift, 1999
Private collection, Europe (before 1999); [Fabio Rossi, London, until 1999; sold to MMA].
New York. Fuller Building. "Sacred Symbols: The Ritual Art of Tibet," March 24–April 3, 1999, no. 71.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 1991–2002," September 4, 2002–January 18, 2004, no. 48.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet," April 5–July 4, 2006, no. 111.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tibetan Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection," December 13, 2007–April 29, 2012.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.
London. British Museum. "Ming: 50 Years that Changed China," September 18, 2014–January 4, 2015.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Making The Met, 1870–2020," August 29, 2020–January 3, 2021.
"Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1998–1999." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Fall 1999), pp. 76–77, ill.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1998–1999. Renaissance and Baroque Europe." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Fall 1999), pp. 76–77, ill.
Thurman, Robert A. F., and David Weldon. Sacred Symbols: The Ritual Art of Tibet. New York: Sotheby's, New York, 1999. pp. 154–55, no. 71, ill.
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. 50–52, no. 48, fig. 16.
Pyhrr, Stuart W., Donald J. La Rocca, and Dirk H. Breiding. The Armored Horse in Europe, 1480–1620. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. p. 19, fig. 12.
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, 15, 27, 74, 148, 172, 214, 216–17, 221, back cover, no. 111, ill.
La Rocca, Donald J. "Warriors of the Himalayas." Orientations (June 2006), p. 61.
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. 50, fig. 15.
La Rocca, Donald J. "Asian Arms and Armour at The Met." Arts of Asia (March–April 2019), pp. 66–67, fig. 19.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Andrea Bayer, Laura D. Corey, Morrison H. Heckscher, Katharine Baetjer, Joan R. Mertens, and Barbara Drake Boehm. Making the Met, 1870–2020. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2020. pp. 231, 256, fig. 246.
La Rocca, Donald J., and Alice Travers. "A Progressive Tibetan Aristocrat's Equestrian Equipment." In Himalayan Art in 108 Objects, edited by Karl Debreczeny, and Elena Pakhoutova. London: Scala Publishers, 2023. p. 430, ill.
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