Shaffron (Horse's Head Defense)

Date: 15th–17th century

Culture: Tibetan or Mongolian

Medium: Iron, leather, brass or copper alloy

Dimensions: H. 21 in. (53.3 cm); W. 20 1/4 in. (51.4 cm); Wt. 6 lb. 13.2 oz. (3095.8 g)

Classification: Equestrian Equipment-Shaffrons

Credit Line: Purchase, The Collection of Giovanni P. Morosini, presented by his daughter Giulia, by exchange; Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Funds from various donors, by exchange; and Fletcher Fund, by exhange, 1997

Accession Number: 1997.242d


This shaffron is an excellent example of what appears to be a standard form, consisting mainly of a leather ground covered with small square iron plates, which are sewn to the ground by leather laces threaded through a single hole and a small boss at the corner of each plate. Shaped iron plates are laced down the center and at each cheek. The leaf-shaped finial of the vertical rib attached to the central iron panel is very similar to those found on Tibetan cane shields, leather arm defenses, and leather boxes.