About this object

A very rare armoured robe or surcoat used in Tibet, but representing an example of Chinese ceremonial armour. The foundation of the tunic is a red cotton or linen like fabric lined with red silk on the interior. The exterior is covered with overlapping rows of small shield-shaped copper scales, possibly originally gilded, each scale has four holes allowing it to be sewn to the foundation fabric. The borders of the robe are covered with a brocade silk which has a large floral pattern. At the neck is a short collar in silk brocade.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Asia: Eastern Asia: China
  • Date made
    18th Century
  • Materials
    Leather Skin; Textile Silk; Copper; Textile Cotton
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Purchased from the collections of Norwich Castle Museum, 1956
  • Collector
    John Claude White
  • Place collected
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]: Ü-Tsang: Lhasa
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    1162 mm; 45 3/4 in
  • Note
    Description adapted from D LaRocca's catalogue entry in, Warriors of the Himalayas. Curator's note: In Beasley 1938 pl. VI this robe is identified as coming from the Hyslop collection. Captain Henry H G Hyslop was married to John Claude White's daughter. Hyslop accompanied White to Bhutan in 1907 and also to Calcutta,to meet the Panchen Lama, in 1906. The inventory card notes provenance as, 'Lhassa' and it is likely that this robe was gifted, looted or purchased by White during the Younghusband Expedition and then subsequently given to Hyslop.
  • Related people

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.


Previous owners

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