Rkangling, 19th century
Bone; L. 39.4cm (15 1/2in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.2562)

Originally, these ceremonial ‘trumpets’ were made from the thigh bone of a dead lama.


Toad flasks

Undated, Eastern Tibet, Toad flask, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Astamangala.

This is a particularly well-preserved and decorative example of a series of flasks shaped like a toad, with the corresponding granulated-skin effect. These were probably used by pilgrims of a certain social status to carry water on their journey.

Circa 18th century, Tibet, brass with leather straps, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (USA).

Circa 18th century, Tibet, brass with leather strap and wooden stopper, private collection, photo by Michael Backman Ltd.


Ornate tea cups

19th century, Tibet, iron inlaid with silver and gold, private collection,

This tea cup and its lotus-shaped holder are richly decorated with a floral and foliate pattern. The lid has a turquoise finial. This type of tea set is known as dhakya.

Same, silver alloy and jade, private collection.

The lid on this one is richly embossed with dragons on a foliate background, topped with a lotus flower and a jade finial. The stand is missing.

Antique head ornaments

Woman’s head ornament, Tibet, silver, turquoise, coral, brass, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Tibetan women traditionally wore in their headdress a round silver ornament inlaid with turquoise and coral and decorated with an embossed pattern (or several). It is unusual for this object to be decorated with skulls.

Same as before, without brass.


Stupas with gems

16th century, Western Tibet, bronze with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This reliquary is decorated with incisions including a wheel and a knot of eternity among foliage at the front of the base, a turquoise-inlaid flaming jewel (triratna) on the upper rim, geometrical motifs on the stepped plinth over the lotus, beaded festoons and pendants inlaid with turquoise above.

16th century, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

A simpler design also with festoons and beaded pendants at the top.

18th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Here the artist has used tiny stone and coral cabochons, and larger lapis lazuli, coral and turquoise pieces for the moon and sun finial.

Khyung Togchags

12th century, Tibet, brass, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

9th-13th century, Tibet, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Garudas, known as khyung in Tibet, usually hold a long snake between their hands and through their beak. The hands may be held at chest level…

Undated, same as before.

… or the arms may be spread above shoulder level.


This one looks like a winged bull rather than a garuda.