A Rare Tibetan Cymbal Case, 18th - 19th century

3083 3
3083 1

Item ref: 3083

  • Tibet
  • Wood, shagreen, textile, brass, copper
  • Height: 15 cm / 5.9 in


Private collection England
Private collection, Spain

The ‘fierce’ or ‘wrathful’ cymbals, the rolmo, have a central function in the Tibetan orchestra. Their players, the chant leaders or umdze, set the rhythm and pace of the chant, just as a conductor does a Western orchestra. This is a rare survival of a case for a pair of rolmo cymbals. Two other examples are recorded, both retaining their cymbals. One is in the British Museum (1894.0310.78, Zwalf 1981 fig. 51), a similar box covered in red painted cloth with comparable bronze decorated straps. Another set, thought to date from the early 18th century, is preserved in the National Music Museum, of the University of South Dakota, (no. 7451) retains its circular pad intended to protect the cymbals from each other in storage and transit.