In the past, Tibetans were known as fierce warriors. This quiver is part of a festival costume worn by a Tibetan horse rider. Festival events include archery and picking khatags (white friendship scarves) off the ground – all while on horseback. These riders are celebrated in Tibet much like professional hockey players are revered in Canada.

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How have the original quiver, outfit and horse decorations changed over time?

responded: Jan 29, 2012

Posted by Courtlynd

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Tibetan costume and design usually consist of recurring themes related to nature such as clouds and the dragon. These themes originate from the Tibetan religion of Buddhism. The cloud was known to symbolize the sky that surrounded the earth and is now known to represent the universe in all its vastness. The dragon motif represents power, success and good luck and is often associated with the Emperor. These symbols along with the lotus flower, tiger, snow lion and Garuda can be seen in repetition throughout Tibetan clothing and armour. Tibetan symbolism and motifs are still apparent in their outfit today. The fabric used was often silk damask and longer in length. Modern outfits called the chuba still have pointed sleeves that are similar to the dress one would wear in battle but are often made of wool or sheepskin. These modern outfits are often belted around the waist and only reach just below the knee. The quiver was made of wood, leather or fur and covered in ornate detailed designs. Today, the quiver is made of metal or plastic but still illustrates Tibetan culture with common motifs. Horse armour was mostly made of iron and leather. Metals such as gold, silver and copper were used for immaculate metal work known as damascening. The headpieces were made custom to fit the horse with shaffron and steel. The designs were of Tibetan motifs and the amount of detail usually depended on the person’s status. The combination of intricate metal work, varnished leather and gold leafing has made Tibetan horse armour the most sophisticated in the world. As the use of horses in battle is less exercised, this artwork is commonly seen in museums. However, The Tibetan New Year Festival Losar is an event that consists of archery, horse races and carnivals for the duration of a week. During such festivals ancient dress, quiver and horse armour are still present.

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