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
  • Diameter: 20 cm
  • Inscription: 925
    Inscription: Ag̠ẖrāẓ intiqāshi ast ka āz mā bāz mānd
    ka hastī rā inmā dīdan naqī. The intention of this design was that it should survive
    Because I perceive no stability in my existence.
    Inscription: Cartouche a: The Sultan son of Sultan; Cartouche b: 900; Cartouche d: 89
    Inscription: Upper cartouche: Shah Tahmasb; Bottom cartouche: The Sultan
  • OA1523
  • Oriental Armoury
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Kulah Khud or helmet, composed of a watered steel bowl bears the head of a div or “devil” that is embossed on the surface. It has an embossed nose with pierced nostrils, pair of eyebrows with engraved individual hairs, and a set of wide eyes. The eyes have been detailed with gold false-damascening. The moustache has been engraved onto the surface of the bowl. The div’s mouth has been pierced with incisor teeth. The bowl is lined with red fabric, which can be seen through the nostrils and the mouth, emphasizing the div’s monstrous character. Horns and ears, made of watered steel and feature arabesque and floral patterns in gold false-damascening, have been attached to the bowl by rivets. The back of the bowl contains a cartouche with a Persian inscription that is inlaid with brass. The iron brim is decorated with cartouches filled with flowers and arabesques gold false-damascening.

    The base of the spike is decorated with floral patterns and pierced cartouches with Persian inscriptions. The decoration is executed in gold false-damascening. The spike is four-sided and is covered with floral patterns in gold false-damascening.

    The nasal guard is not adjustable and is secured to the bowl by a screw. It consists of a long rod that extends past the bowl and terminates, at both ends, in a pointed, fanned-out, and scalloped-edged shape. The rod is decorated with a floral pattern in gold false-damascening. The shapes at the ends have been pierced and also contain Persian inscriptions in gold false-damascening.

    The aventail is connected to the helmet by large mail links. It comprisess butted steel links with a design of diamonds in copper alloy links. The aventail terminates into dags of various sizes, the smaller ones comprising copper alloy links. Some dags are longer than others so that they drape down the shoulders. A ‘swallow’s’ tail is formed at the back of the helmet to protect the back of the neck.

    This type of helmet would have been used in parades and ceremonial processions. The non-adjustable, and thus unusable nasal guard supports this function. Laking (London: 1914) interpreted the inscribed numbers ‘900’ and ‘89’ as being ‘986’, mis-reading ‘89’. He asserts that ‘986’ is the Al-Hijri date (A.H.) which converts to 1577 A.D.. This erroneous supposition was induced by the presence of the name of Safavid ruler ‘Shah Thamasb’ (r. 1525-1576) on the nasal guard. Inscriptions dedicated to the great Safavid ruler were a popular feature on Persian arms and armor during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was common to invoke, along with the names of religious figures such as the Prophet Muhammad, the names of illustrious rulers. The number ‘989’, read as an al-Hijri date, converts to to 1581 A.D. It can also signify Sura 9 and verse 89 from the Qur’an.

    There is an inlaid brass design on the back of the helmet including a verse and incorporating the number ‘295’. It is believed that it corresponds to 1295 A.H. which converts to 1878 A.D. Based on this interpretation, he believes, then, that the helmet was purchased by Richard Wallace; the 4th Marquess of Hertford, who was responsible of acquiring most of the Oriental arms, died in 1870.

    For similar pieces, see: Royal Collection, XXVIA.67, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 48.92.2 and 96.5.125.