This exhibition is the first detailed
survey of traditional armor and weapons from the Tibetan plateau.
Until recently, these objects were understood to represent only
a few generic types and were dismissed as archaic and simplistic.
A more careful appraisal, however, reveals a far wider and surprisingly
nuanced variety of styles, decorative techniques, materials, dates,
and cultural influences that have been previously unknown or simply
Armor and weapons are certainly not what come
to mind when considering Tibet, which is identified with the pacifism
and deep spirituality of the Dalai Lama and with the compassionate
nature of Tibetan Buddhism. This seeming paradox, however, is
resolved in the context of Tibetan history, which included regular
and extended periods of intense military activity from the seventh
to the mid-twentieth century.
From the Introduction