About this object

A very rare type of sword, with scabbard, due to the shape and combination of materials. The grip and guard of the sword are made of wood and leather covered with ray skin, the bottom edge of the guard is finished with copper gilt. The trefoil-style pommel is of a sandwich construction, with iron plaques decorated with pierced and engraved details. The blade is single edged and coated with a deep red coating, a long mantra has been painted over the length of the blade in dbu can script. The scabbard has a swelling at the top to cover the hilt of the sword, it has an iron frame around its entire edge and a band of shagreen along its length. The top, middle and bottom of the scabbard is decorated with iron and copper bands of pierced scrollwork.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]
  • Date made
    15th - 16th Century
  • Materials
    Skin Leather; Skin Shagreen; Skin Stingray; Iron; Copper; Wood
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    From the Collection of Sergeant J Heaney
  • Collector
    J Heaney
  • Place collected
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]: Ü-Tsang: Gyantse
  • Date collected
    26 June 1904
  • Measurements
    851 mm; x 33 1/2 in
  • Note
    Curator's notes: This sword had previously had a dual provenance - one to Bell and one to Heaney. This sword was definitely taken from Tsechen Monastery in 1904 and was donated to the museum by Heaney. This is detailed in the museum's 1905 annual report.
    See full description in D LaRocca's catalogue entry in, Warriors of the Himalayas, where he describes the battle at Tsechan Monastery to be 'hard fought', with the monastery being demolished as a consequence. Written by Emma Martin
  • Related people
    J Heaney (Collector)

Where is this object from?

Explore related


  • Mission to Lhasa 1903-1904

    Start date: 1903
    End date: 1903
    Description: The British Mission to Tibet during 1903 and 1904 was an invasion of southern Tibet by British Indian forces on the pretence of negotiating trade relations between Tibet and British India. However, this was instigated primarily in the hope of preventing the Russian Empire from interfering in Tibetan affairs and thus gaining a base in one of the buffer states surrounding British India. The expedition was led by Colonel (later Sir) Francis Younghusband. It had a damaging effect on the British reputation, many Tibetans were killed and monasteries and houses were looted and/or destroyed along the way. The 13th Dalai Lama feld Lhasa before the arrival of the expedition and Younghusband negotiated, a soon to be repelled, convention with the Tibetan government or Kashag in Lhasa that was signed in the Potala on 7 Septmber 1904.

Object view = Humanities
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