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Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet

de Donald J. LaRocca

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This is the first in-depth examination of the fascinating subject of the armor and weapons of Tibet, a country that throughout the centuries was the scene of dramatic artistic, cultural, and political developments involving Tibetan, Mongol, Chinese, Nepalese, and other Himalayan states. Many of these cultures left behind helmets, armor for men and horses, saddles, swords, archery equipment, and other arms, some of which are unique examples of previously unknown types. Dating from the 13th to the 19th century, they include masterly examples of pierced ironwork embellished with gold and silver, skillfully crafted swords and sword blades, and extremely rare examples of decorated leatherwork.  This richly illustrated book explores each type in turn and features essays by leading scholars. Also included is the first glossary of Tibetan arms and armor terms as well as a selection of excerpts from some of the few surviving Tibetan texts relating to this subject.… (mais)
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The catalogue from an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum.

Most of objects illustrated are from the 15th to 19th centuries, with some older pieces and one or two that may date from the 20th, but Tibet being a military backwater, most seem far more archaic by European standards; body armour, frex, never progressed beyond a level roughly corresponding to the High Middle Ages in Europe. The most advanced piece of military technology adopted before the 20th century was the matchlook musket (obsolete in Europe by about 1720).

The objects are mostly richly decorated prestige items, either intended for practical use by high-ranking individuals, or ceremonial pieces never intended to see a battlefield - though a couple ceremonial pieces show what appears to be combat damage, presumably reflecting them being resorted to in some emergency. Accordingly, the level of workmanship is often very high, and gold and silver decoration the rule rather than the exception. For obvious reasons, more utilitarian gear for the rank-and-file has been less likely to be perserved across the centuries.

To be recommended to anyone interested in the military history and/or art of Tibet.
  AndreasJ | Jun 29, 2020 |
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This is the first in-depth examination of the fascinating subject of the armor and weapons of Tibet, a country that throughout the centuries was the scene of dramatic artistic, cultural, and political developments involving Tibetan, Mongol, Chinese, Nepalese, and other Himalayan states. Many of these cultures left behind helmets, armor for men and horses, saddles, swords, archery equipment, and other arms, some of which are unique examples of previously unknown types. Dating from the 13th to the 19th century, they include masterly examples of pierced ironwork embellished with gold and silver, skillfully crafted swords and sword blades, and extremely rare examples of decorated leatherwork.  This richly illustrated book explores each type in turn and features essays by leading scholars. Also included is the first glossary of Tibetan arms and armor terms as well as a selection of excerpts from some of the few surviving Tibetan texts relating to this subject.

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