Armor for the Torso and Hips

Dali Kingdom (present-day Yunnan, China)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 378

This armor is one of only two early examples of this type known to exist. Its distinctive form and construction are unique to Yunnan province in southwestern China. It is made of rigid leather panels coated with layers of red and black lacquer and joined together by leather laces. The layered lacquer technique, tixi (marbled) or ticai (carved colors), was well known in China from the fourteenth or fifteenth century onward. Scientific testing establishes the armor’s date to the time of the Dali Kingdom, an independent state that ruled the region before it was renamed Yunnan and incorporated into China during the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). The armor, therefore, is extremely important as one of the earliest and most complete examples of this technique and for being identifiable as lacquerwork from the Dali Kingdom or the Yunnan area.

Armor for the Torso and Hips, Leather, lacquer, copper alloy, iron, Dali Kingdom (present-day Yunnan, China)

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Three-quarter front from proper left