5747

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Senior Tibetan Monk’s Summer Riding Hat (Tsetop)

Lhasa, Tibet
18th-early 19th century

diameter: 37cm, height: 16cm

Sold

Provenance

UK art market

This broad-rimmed hat known as a tsetop was made to be worn by a senior monk official during the warmer summer months when out riding.

It is composed of varnished, lacquered and gilded papier-mache. There are four equidistant pierced air vents that are fitted with metal surrounds in the form of ornate, stylised  longevity symbols.

The brim is decorated with roundels infilled with dragons. The rest of the exterior is decorated with Indian lotus floral and leaf scrolls.

The top of the hat is tiered and is topped with an official’s finial comprising a lapis lazuli sphere with gilded copper mounts. This use of such a finial mirrors the practice in China: in China, hat finials in lapis lazili were worn by officials of the fourth rank (officials of the highest eight ranks were permitted to wear hats with rank finials.)

Reynolds (1999, p. 159) and Ghose (2016, p. 102) illustrate similar hats.

The example here has age-related losses and cracking to the lacquered surface. The finial is in excellent condition.

References

Ghose, M. (ed.), Vanishing Beauty: Asian Jewelry and Ritual Objects from the Barbara and David Kipper Collection, Art Institute of Chicago, 2016.

Reynolds, V. et al, From the Sacred Realm: Treasures of Tibetan Art from the Newark Museum, Prestel, 1999.

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