Place of Origin: Tibetan or mongolian
Date: 15th–17th Century
Total length : 520mm (20.5 inches)
Don LaRocca1 classifies this type of leather quiver as a bse dong (Tibetan): bse in reference to the decorated leather, and dong meaning a hollow container. The quiver is made entirely from shaped panels of stiff leather, the edges of which are sewn together with thin, flat leather laces in a braided cross-stitch. This has been re-stitched on one side later with a slightly thicker leather lace. The body of the quiver is representative of its type, with a flat back, a boat-shaped bottom, and a rounded front. The cowl or hood to keep the arrows dry is missing on this example, but the top collar remains. A complete example with a hood can be viewed in the Royal Armouries, Leeds (XXVIB.141)2.
The quiver’s decoration consists of a layer of gold leaf covered with shellac, pigmented in the characteristic red-brown colour, and finished with designs painted in fine black lines. There are four medallions, the top one on the collar containing the auspicious Buddhist symbol of a conch, and the lower three each containing ‘wheels of joy’, representing Mount Meru—a sacred mountain with five peaks considered to be the centre of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. The medallions are linked by two large, lobed cartouches, the contents of which are now eroded (possible designs for what illustrated these areas can be seen in a similar example in the Metropolitan Museum3 which has a snow lion in one medallion and a peony in the other). The designs are all surrounded by honeycomb or tortoise-shell patterns, stylised clouds and bands of keys and flowers. The rear is undecorated.
1 LaRocca, Warriors of the Himalayas—Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet, 2006, p.190, no.93