Inventory no.: 3006

Tibetan Ga’u Box


Round Silver Ga’u Amulet Box

Eastern Tibet

19th century

diameter: 11.5cm, thickness: 3.7cm,weight: 228g

This fine, round ga’u (talismanic box) comes from Eastern Tibet. It comprises a repoussed and chased silver front with a central hole or ‘window’, sides of silver sheet with two pairs of lugs on either side, and a hammered brass sheet backing plate (with remnants of silvering) which fits into the reverse of the ga’u.

The arched window in the front would have framed a relief-moulded clay votive tablet or


The silver front is decorated with a various Himalayan Buddhistic motifs, as well as a prominent and particularly fine

kurtimukha mask below the window, and a bowl of precious jewels on top, all amid fine leafy scrolling, and all in relief. The edges are lined with ‘pearled’ silver wire.

See Prosser (2010, p. 123) for a similar round example in the Newark Museum which the Museum attributes to the 19th century.


ga’u is in fine condition, with only some minor compression to the bottom right hand rim. Overall, it has obvious age and a fine patina.


ga’us were worn by Tibetans on journeys as talismanic or protective devices. As well as containing a tsha-tsha, they often contained an assortment of other items deemed to have protective value, including small pieces of paper inscribed with Tibetan mantras, small seashells and so on.


Beer, R., The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, Serindia, 2004.

Proser, A., (ed.),

Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, Asia Society Museum/Yale University Press, 2010.Provenance:

UK art market

Inventory no.: 3006