Sword (Ral gri)

Date: 14th–16th century

Culture: Tibetan or Chinese

Medium: Iron, steel, gold, silver

Dimensions: L. 34 7/8 in. (88.6 cm); L. of blade 29 1/2 in. (74.9 cm); W. 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm); Wt. 2 lb. 2.5 oz. (978.1 g)

Classification: Swords

Credit Line: Purchase, Rogers Fund and Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 1995

Accession Number: 1995.136


This is one of the best examples from a small group of rare early swords from Tibet. The hilt of this sword, including its grip, is made entirely of iron that has been embossed, chiseled, and then damascened in gold and silver. The guard, just below the grip, is in the form of a stylized mask with teeth and fangs, representing a protective deity or guardian figure. Straight double-edged blades of this type are seen more often on Chinese swords, but they were also used in Tibet.