This exquisite piece comes from the late 19th century, possibly from Eastern Tibet. It was worn as an amulet (to protect the wearer from evil forces), and is made of repose silver with gilt emblems representing the 8 auspicious emblems of Tibetan Buddhism. From the photos of the sides you can see that there are two brackets through which the hanging strap would be put; this was usually made of fabric or leather. Also note the beautiful 3-dimensionality of the detailed front cover. The back plate is made of copper and fits into the gau. Inside the gau are folded prayers wrapped in red silk, and a gilt copper image of Mahakala, one of the protective deities of Buddhism. This particular kind of gau was worn by a Tibetan Buddhist (man or woman) mostly when making pilgrimages to Monasteries and Shrines. They are rarely seen today complete with the contents intact. Dimensions are 3 3/4" in diameter and 1 3/4" deep.
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