This fine amulet box or ga’u is of arched form. The front and sides are of high-grade silver; the back plate is of hammered copper. The front has a cusped ‘window’ to allow the contents to be viewed. In this case, most probably an image of a deity was kept inside. The lower part of the ‘window’ has a pierced, floral frieze. The remainder of the front is beautifully chased and pierced with scrolling tendril-like motifs.
On each side of the box are pairs of squarish lugs through which leather straps would have been threaded to allow the box to be attached to the owner’s clothing.
Ga’u boxes were worn by men and women in Tibet and in other parts of the Buddhist Himalayas as protective amulet cases. Usually, they were worn suspended from the neck. They would contain a variety of precious and protective items such as parchment inscribed with mantras, a small figure of a deity, and cloth perhaps from the robe of an esteemed monk.
The example here has a splendid patina and wear. Its age is obvious. It is clear that it has been ritually used and worn.
Clarke, J., Jewellery of Tibet and the Himalayas, V&A Publications, 2004.