We know the Tibetans as a peaceful, Buddhist peoples, which is why the title of this current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art caught me off-guard: "Tibetan Arms and Armor." What, they had weapons?
Armor and weapons are certainly not among the images usually called to mind when considering the art or culture of Tibet, which is closely identified with the pacifism and deep spirituality of the Dalai Lama and with the compassionate nature of Tibetan Buddhism. However, this seeming paradox resolves itself when seen in the context of Tibetan history, which includes regular and extended periods of intense military activity from the seventh to the mid-twentieth century.
For those who can't make it to the Met there's a slideshow of the exhibit here, and I have to say, some of this stuff looks pretty bad-ass.