The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Kulah Khud
  • Kulah Khud
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Persia
  • 19th century
  • Steel, iron, gold, brass, textile (cotton)
  • Inscription: īn khūd chu khurshīd ki barāmad zi sar-i kūh
    z’ āhan gashta būd murassa‘ u zar u sīm
    hamchu falak-i hashtum akhtar-rā ārāyish
    basar-i falakī … ki bast dar-rā
    az shahr-i farkhunda-pay ablaq-i barq
    alqissa, rubūdan-i sar-i sultān-i javānbakht
    īn khūd-i murassa‘ ba-saram dilāvurd
    chu būd ān sar tāj-i kay u afsar-i qaysar This helmet, like the sun emerging from over a mountain
    of iron was gem-studded and gold and silver
    like the eighth celestial sphere, adornment of the stars
    over a sphere…that closed the door
    the steed of lightning from a felicitous city
    in short, taking the head of the lucky ruler
    this gem-studded helmet on my head gave me courage
    since that head was Chosroes’ crown and Caesar’s diadem
  • OA1436
  • Oriental Armoury
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Helmet (kulah khud), composed of a steel skull featuring four large cartouches, bordered in gold, with battle and combat scenes chiseled in low relief. The details of the decoration are accented with false-damascening in gold. The lower edge of the skull carries a band of cartouches filled with Persian inscriptions. The skull is lined with quilted printed cloth. The skull is surmounted by a four-sided spike with foliate scrolls on each face chiseled in low relief bordered in gold false-damascening. The base of the spike has four cartouches with arabesques chiseled in low relief. Amongst the cartouches are floral patterns in gold false-damascening.

    Two plume-holders are riveted to the center of the skull and flank a nasal guard. Their bases are leaf-shaped, with scalloped edges, bordered in gold false-damascening and contain birds chiseled in low relief. The plume-holders also have traces of gold.

    The nasal is secured to the skull by means of a screw. It consists of a bar extending down beyond the skull and terminating, at both ends, in a leaf-shaped plate with scalloped edges; similar in shape to the plume-holder bases. Each contain two birds chiseled in low relief and surrounded by a decorative border false-damascened in gold.

    The aventail is connected to the helmet by large mail links. It is comprised of butted steel links with a interwoven design of dots and horizontal lines picked out in copper alloy links. The aventail terminates in dags of various sizes, some longer than others so that they drape down over the shoulders and the back of the neck. The smaller dags are made up of copper alloy links.

    The battle and combat design is a common feature of nineteenth-century Persian arms and armor. It is found not only on helmets, but also shields and baluster-shaped dagger hilts. It is a quintessential Qajar motif. Art and culture of the Qajar period (1789 to 1925) is a convergence of influence from the previous Persian dynasty, the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736) and European sources.

    The quilted and printed cotton lining is most likely Persian, dating from the nineteenth-century. This helmet is similar to OA 2270 and OA 1487, also in the Wallace Collection. It also resembles OA 1687 with the exception that there are no arabesques on the skull. It has motif similarities to a helmet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. no. 02.5.7).