Setting: Tibetan wars 1788-1904
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Warriors of the Himalayas 2006 p9
"After Qianlong, and for much of the nineteenth century, the Manchus were too preoccupied with internal affairs and the growing involvement of Western nations in China to intervene actively in Tibet. As a consequence, Tibet's war with the Sikhs and Ladakhis (the Dogra War) in 1841-42, a second war with the Nepalese Gurkhas in 1855-56, the Nyarong War fought in eastern Tibet in 1862-65, and finally the Younghusband Expedition of 1903-4 were met without assistance from China."
* Warriors of the Himalayas 2006 p126
"[M]ail worn in conjunction with a consistent set of equipment ..., judging from its constituent parts, probably became the standardized equipment for Tibetan cavalry some time between the mid-seventeenth and the mid-eighteenth century. The mail consists of a short-sleeve shirt reaching to the waist or hips .... It was worn with a helmet fitted with upturned textile flaps, a set of four mirrors (four iron disks worn over the mail), an armored belt, bow and arrows carried in a bow case and quiver at the left and right hip respectively, a matchlock musket, a bandolier with containers for gunpowder and bullets, and a spear."
* Waddell 1905 p168
"A few still wear iron helmets and cuirasses of the type familiar to us in medieval literature, consisting of small, narrow, willow-like leaves about 11/2 inch long, threaded with leather thongs. A few also wear coats of chain mail. The iron helmet of the cavalry was distinguished from that of the infantry, who have a cock's feather, by a red tassel or peacock's feather on the top."
* Warriors of the Himalayas 2006 p126
"The term 'four mirrors' refers to a type of armor often called by the Persian term char-aina or chahar-a'inah, literally, 'four mirrors.' It was widely used in India and Persia, where the plates tended to be larger and squarer or faceted, and in Tibet, where the plates were usually round. The Tibetan name for this type of armor appears to be me long bzhi, again a literal translation of the term 'four mirrors.' The disks are worn on the center of the chest, back, and under each arm, held by leather cross-straps. Most Tibetan examples appear to have been plain disks of polished iron, but those with decoration include the use of engraving and damascening, applied borders, and raised inlay."
* Waddell 1905 p169
"The weapons of the Tibetan warrior are numerous and picturesque. On his back is slung a matchlock or modern rifle .... The horsemen are armed with matchlocks only as a rule, though some have bows and arrows in addition. ... The matchlocks are long and heavy iron pieces, with tow prongs hinged at their muzzle as rest to steady the gun in firing. The larger ones have no prongs, but are supported on the shoulder of a second man, who stands in front with his back to the firer. Jingals are small long cannons made on the same principle."
* Stone 1934 p443
"ME-DA. One of several Tibetan names for a gun. The Tibetan guns are matchlocks, and all of the iron parts are usually of Chinese make and very rough. The gun is the Tibetan's most valued possession and he is very proud of his marksmanship, though never able to hit a moving object according to Rockhill. The stocks are straight and much like the Indian; they are often covered with wild ass's skin stretched tightly and sewed on. The pan cover is a flap of leather fastened to the left side of the stock and held down by a tag hooked over a pin on the right. The spare match cord is carried in a long, narrow pouch on the right side of the stock. It is usually decorated with inlays of colored leather and silver studs. These guns are always fitted with the Central Asian forked rest with is pivoted to a projection on the lower side of the stock. These rests are tipped, either with iron, or antelope horns, those of the orongo being the most valued for this purpose. These guns vary considerably in size, being from three to five feet long." (citation omitted)
* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/LaRocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson p184 (Thom Richardson, "China and Central Asia" p172-185)
"Tibetan swords[' ...] blades, which are single-edged with an angled point, are survivors from the period before the curved sword took over in Central Asia. Two principal styles are found, ornate and plain. 'Ornate' denotes semi-precious stones and tsuba-like guards on the hilt, and a scabbard decorated with fretted and possibly silvered mythological creatures. Swords of the 'plain' type have no hilt guards and no decoration, or very simple decoration, on the pommel or scabbard, although these are often silvered overall."