Helmet (Rmog), Iron, gold, silver, copper, Mongolian

Helmet (Rmog)

15th–17th century
Iron, gold, silver, copper
H. 7 5/8 in. (19.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of William H. Riggs, by exchange, 1999
Accession Number:
Not on view
The gold damascened decoration of this distinctively Mongolian helmet features six large ovals containing the deity Yamantaka (literally, slayer of the lord of death) in the center, surrounded by five female attendants called dakinis (sky-goers). In between them are twelve protective seed syllables, symbolic letters also known as bija. These are flanked by Tibetan inscriptions identifying the protective attributes of each seed syllable. The brow of the helmet is encircled by a series of mantras, including invocations to Yamantaka and the dakinis. In the center of the brow is a monogram known as the All-Powerful Ten, composed of the ten Sanskrit syllables of the Kalachakra (literally, wheel of time) mantra. Next to this is a stylized stupa or chorten, a funerary monument or reliquary that can also represent the enlightened mind.
[Fabio Rossi, London, until 1999; sold to MMA].
New York. Fuller Building. "Sacred Symbols: The Ritual Art of Tibet," March 24–April 3, 1999, no. 76.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet," April 5–July 4, 2006, no. 16.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas," December 20, 2014–June 14, 2015.

Thurman, Robert A. F., and David Weldon. Sacred Symbols: The Ritual Art of Tibet. New York: Sotheby's, New York, 1999. pp. 166–67, no. 76, ill.

Norwick, Braham. "Reading Magic Writing: Bija and Lantsha." Archiv Orientální 71, no. 3 pp. 395–408.

La Rocca, Donald J. Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. pp. 80–81, no. 16, ill.

Pyhrr, Stuart W. "Of Arms and Men: Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan, 1912–2012." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer 2012), pp. 47–48, fig. 80.