Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Lamellar Armor (Byang Bu'i Khrab) and Helmet

Date:
possibly 16th–17th century
Culture:
Tibetan
Medium:
Iron, leather
Dimensions:
H. as mounted approx. 59 in. (149.9 cm)
Classification:
Armor for Man
Credit Line:
Bequest of George C. Stone, 1935
Accession Number:
36.25.53a, b
Not on view
This is a representative example of a Tibetan lamellar armor and helmet. Both pieces show signs of hard use and repairs. By comparison with examples that are thought to be earlier in date, its lamellae are relatively coarse, dark in color, roughly finished, and more irregular in size. Most Tibetan lamellar armors share several distinct features. The body of the armor has the form of a sleeveless robe made from twelve to fourteen or more rows of lamellae, and the coat has a distinct waist, with the lamellae of that row being bent in a subtle curve. Most armors are sleeveless, but some have shoulder defenses formed of several rows of lamellae, and full sleeves in at least one rare instance. The coat opens down the length of its front, and the back of the skirt is split vertically from the bottom row up to the waist by two seams, one at either side. Some are trimmed with borders made of silk brocade, which is attached around the bottom edge of the coat at the base of the skirts and at the bottom of the shoulder defenses. However, the majority have a simple border at the base of the skirts consisting of two layers of thick leather.

Equally distinctive helmets were made to match the armors and are likewise associated only with Tibet or the Tibetan cultural region. Like the armors, this type of helmet is constructed of iron plates joined by leather laces. The bowl of the helmet is usually made up of eight arched plates, with four narrow outer plates that have cusped edges, and four wider inner plates that have smooth edges. In addition to a characteristic plume finial at the top of the helmet, on complete examples there is also a single row of lamellae encircling the base of the helmet bowl, a pair of cheek defenses made of five to seven rows of lamellae, and a flaring nape defense of three rows.
[William Ockelford Oldman, London, before 1935; sold to Stone]; George Cameron Stone, New York City (until d. 1935; his bequest to MMA).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet," April 5–July 4, 2006, no. 5.

Stone, George Cameron. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, Together with Some Closely Related Subjects. Portland, Maine: Southworth Press, 1934. p. 53, fig. 66.

Stone, George Cameron. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, Together with Some Closely Related Subjects. New York, 1961. p. 53, fig. 66.

Stone, George Cameron, and Donald J. La Rocca. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, Together with Some Closely Related Subjects. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1999. p. 53, fig. 66.

Tung, Rosemary Jones. A Portrait of Lost Tibet. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1996. pp. 158–65, pls. 98–101, 107, 112–13.

La Rocca, Donald J. "An Approach to the Study of Arms and Armour from Tibet." Royal Armouries Yearbook (1999), pp. 116–17, fig. 7.

La Rocca, Donald J. Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. pp. 4, 5, 8, 11, 52, 54 (n. 3), 62–64, 68, 124, no. 5, 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. 42, fig. 4.

Hales Robert, and Kevin Conru. W.O. Oldman: The Remarkable Collector: William Ockleford Oldman's Personal Archive. Gent, Belgium: Graphius, 2016. p. 51, fig. 50.

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