The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Baizat
  • Baizat
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Egyptian or Sudanese
  • 17th century with nineteenth century additions
  • Steel, gold
  • Diameter: 22.5 cm
  • Inscription: Allāhu lā ilāha illā huwa al-hayyu al-qayyūmu lā ta’khudhuhu sinatun wa-lā nawmun la-hu mā fī al-samāwāti wa-mā fī al-arḍi man dhā alladhī yashfa‘u ‘indahu illā bi-idhnihi ya‘lamu mā bayna aydīhim wa-mā khalfahum wa-lā yuḥīṭūna bi-shay’in min ‘ilmihi illā bi-mā shā’a wasi‘a kursīyuhu al-samāwāti wa-al-arḍa wa-lā ya’ūduhu ḥifẓuhumā wa-huwa al-‘alīyu al-‘adhīm Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.
    Inscription: Al-samuwat Heavens
  • OA1789
  • Reserve Gallery
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Helmet or baizat, composed of a steel skull of the seventeenth century made with two layers and reinforced with vertical ribs with renewed sections, and an iron brim featuring a thick border false-damascened in gold carrying cartouches with Qu’ranic inscriptions. The decoration is Egyptian work of the nineteenth century, as is the spike at the apex of the skull. The base of the spike is decorated with floral patterns false-damascened in gold, while the spike itself is short, four-sided and also covered in gold false-damascening.

    Three nasals are secured to the skull by means of engraved cheese-head screws. Each one consists of a long bar extending down beyond the base of the skull to protect the face, and terminating, at both ends in small spade-like plates. These terminals are outlined in gold false-damascening and contain stylised ‘Arabic’ inscriptions within gold false-damascened cartouches. Underneath is a floral pattern also executed in gold false-damascening. The nasal bars feature chiselled flowers in low relief also false-damascened in gold.

    The aventail is made of butted steel links and is connected to the helmet by means of larger mail links. The aventail terminates in dags varying in length; some are longer so that they drape down over the shoulders and the back of the neck.

    The cheese-head screws holding the nasals in place are familiar from European gun-making. Their brackets are nineteenth-century European additions having European decoration not indigenous to Middle Eastern arms and armour. The fake inscriptions on the nasals are stylised impressions of Arabic script and only one word is legible. This helmet was possibly no. 6208 in the Musée Rétrospectif Exposition, Paris 1865.

    There is a similar helmet in the Collection of the Museo Stibbert, Florence. Helmets of this type were used by the forces of Muhammad Ahmad (1845–1885) and a number were captured by the British at the Battle Omdurman (1898). One such Omdurman trophy is in the collection of the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers, and is on display at Armourer’s Hall in the City of London. This example is devoid of decoration, and has a single nasal with plain oval ends. Another similar example is in the collection of the Museo Civico Medievale, Bologna (inv. no. 3405).