Sword Belt, Leather, iron, copper alloy, gold, Tibetan

Sword Belt

ca. 1750–ca. 1850
Leather, iron, copper alloy, gold
2014.262.2a; L. 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm); Wt. 12.9 oz. (365.7 g); 2014.262.2b; L. 7 in. (17.8 cm); Wt. 0.8 oz. (22.7 g)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2014
Accession Number:
2014.262.2a, b
Not on view
This belt, and its matching sword and scabbard (2014.262.1a–c) were reportedly taken by Lieutenant Edmund Henry Lenon (1838–1893) in China at the battle of North Taku Fort on August 21, 1860. Lieutenant Lenon, a member of the 67th Regiment of Foot, was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1862 for his actions on that day. Tibetan swords and scabbards with original, matching sword belts are very rare.

The belt is made of pale red leather edged along its entire length top and bottom with light green leather piping. It is fitted with five decorated mounts, a buckle at each end, and a leather thong attached to one buckle. There is one short suspension strap, now detached. The other strap is missing. The front of each mount has a pierced and chiseled rectangular iron panel decorated with an undulating dragon amid scrolling foliage and damascened overall in gold. Each panel is set in a notched or lobed frame made of iron on the top and bottom and copper alloy on either side. The mounts at either end of the belt taper towards the outer edge and end in a hinge for the buckle; both the hinges and the buckles are copper alloy. The other three mounts are rectangular; one is fixed in place and the other two can slide along the belt. The two moveable mounts have a pivoted plain iron D-ring hanging from the bottom edge for straps that would attach to the sword scabbard. Each mount is attached to the belt on the reverse by a plain copper alloy band. The remaining suspension strap is made of a narrow strip of leather doubled over on itself and stitched together to form a narrow band with a loop at either end. It is decorated with seven pyramidal studs, alternating in gilt copper and silver. Each stud is secured by a central iron rivet that engages a square iron washer on the reverse.
Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Henry Lenon VC, London (said to have been captured in China at the Battle of North Taku Fort; August 21, 1860–d. 1893); [Steen Strømberg, Copenhagen, said to have been purchased from the descendants of Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Henry Lenon VC; from 1964; sold to an art dealer]; [art dealer, Guernsey, United Kingdom, until 2014; sold to MMA].