Forearm Guard for the Left Arm

Date: possibly 15th–16th century

Culture: Tibetan or Mongolian

Medium: Leather, shellac, gold, pigment

Dimensions: L. 12 1/4 in. (31.1 cm)

Classification: Armor Parts

Credit Line: Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2005

Accession Number: 2005.301.2


The ornament on this arm guard is very similar to that seen on Tibetan horse armor, but it is larger in scale and its style is bolder. Like other arm guards of this type, its decoration consists of gold leaf covered with an orange-toned shellac and painted with a black pigment, with a clear shellac glaze overall. All known examples of Tibetan forearm guards appear to be for the left arm, suggesting that they were never made in pairs but were used on the left arm only. There are two basic types. One has applied iron struts, like those on Tibetan shields and furniture, often with ornamental piercings. The second type, shown here, has no applied iron fittings. Instead, the leather surface is entirely covered with varnished and gilded decoration. The same style and technique of decoration is also found on Tibetan bow cases and quivers.