Neratova E. I. (2020). Mech, dospeh i saadak – dar Nikolaju II [A sword, a suit of armour and a quiver to be presented to Nicholas II]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 9, pp. 150 — 169.
Abstract: The article deals with the objects from the collection of the Russian museum of ethnography, which were presented on behalf of Dalai Lama XIII to Nicholas II on the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.
The author briefly analyzes the political situation and Russian-Tibetan relationship both in diplomatic and spiritual spheres just before the participation of the Tibet formal representative in the festivities on the occasion of the Russian ruling house jubilee. The presents to the Russian tsar are explained to have been a thoroughly measured stroke of policy, aimed to bring Tibet the international recognition in political affairs. Unfortunately, this move did not have ramifications because of either the weakness of the Russian diplomacy at that time or, to the contrary, the firmness of the Russian cabinet, which had already been bound by obligations with other foreign partners, mostly with Great Britain.
On the Nicholas II’s personal order, the presents he got from Tibet on those days were moved to the Ethnographic department of the Alexander the III Russian museum (currently the Russian museum of Ethnography).
The author ascertains that the presented weapons, which are a sword in the scabbard, a suit of armour, a helmet, a quiver, and a bow case, were chosen from those availabe-off-the shelf and not made specially for the presentation. Previously, along with other objects they were stored in the monastery arsenals. The author argues against the dating, preserved in the archive documents of the museum. Which was put down in accordance with the oral information of Dalai Lama envoy A. Dorjiev. He spoke the weapons to be too ancient, tracing the suit of armor, for example, to the early Middle ages. However, the author sees the point for such an early dating, underlying the centuries-old conventionalism in the arms and amour of Tibet and taking into consideration the features of traditional culture and diplomacy, which presumes the archaicism as thier important and meaningful element, especially if it concerns the correspondence of objects and epochs or legendary people. It is very remarkable and demonstrative that the Buddhist cult objects, which also formed a part of the presents to the Russian tsar were estimated as contemporary pieces or ancient ones of Tibetan (or Lhas) workmanship, dating back to the times of spiritual power of Dalai Lamas in Tibet, while all the presented arms and armour were traced to the most glorious and imperious days of the Tibetan civil state.
Keywords: Nicholas II, Dalai Lama, Tibetan arms and armour.