Ceremonial Helmet


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 378

The excellent quality and elaborate ornamentation of this helmet indicate that it was made for a nobleman, possibly of imperial status, or a very high-ranking military official. It is decorated with applied ornaments of gilt copper including the Buddhist mantra Om mani padme hum in Lantsa characters. The Lantsa alphabet was often used for sacred inscriptions in Tibet, China, and other Buddhist countries. The helmet is very similar to one worn by Emperor Qianlong in a famous equestrian portrait of him painted by the Jesuit artist, Giuseppe Castiglione, and another helmet that was donated by the emperor to a Tibetan monastery in 1757.

Ceremonial Helmet, Steel, copper, gold, silk, metallic thread, Chinese

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