This mask has already become one of the signature pieces of The Met’s world-famous collection of arms and armor from Tibet. War masks made of metal (usually iron or copper alloys) and intended specifically as armor existed in many cultures for nearly 2,000 years, from Roman Britain in the 1st century A.D. to Japan up to the end of the Edo period in the late 19th century. They were probably introduced in Tibet by the Mongols in the 14th or 15th century and were used in Central Asia and West Asia until at least the 16th century. While many types of Tibetan dance and ritual masks exist, this promised gift is the only known example of a decorated iron war mask from Tibet.
Learn more in this #MetCollects episode with Arms and Armor curator emeritus Donald J. La Rocca!
War Mask. Tibetan, 14th–16th century. Promised Gift of Steven Kossak, The Kronos Collections, in celebration of the Museum's 150th Anniversary.
This episode of MetCollects focuses on an exceptionally rare and enigmatically beautiful war mask that is one of only two known examples from Tibet.