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, gold, iron, copper alloy
  • OA1444
  • Oriental Armoury
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Kulah Khud or helmet, composed of a watered steel bowl with a riveted iron brim.
    The bowl is divided into eight segments that contain decorative cartouches with either hunting scenes of animals in combat, or arabesques. The designs are chiseled in low relief. The iron brim is decorated with cartouches that contain birds and animals, all of which are executed in gold false-damascening. The details have been enhanced by punching and tooling.

    The base of the spike is decorated with arabesque patterns that are chiseled in low relief. Running along the edge of the base is a decorative border in gold false-damascening. The spike is shaped like a flame and is etched with the details and outline of a fish.

    Two plume-holders are riveted to the center of the bowl and flank a nasal guard. Their bases are leaf in shape with scalloped, decorative edges. The bear animals and birds chiseled in low relief.

    The nasal guard 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 ends contain animals in combat that are chiseled in low relief. The border has traces of gold.

    The aventail is connected to the helmet by large mail links. It comprises of butted steel links with a design of honeycombs, dots, diamonds, zigzags, and horizontal lines in copper alloy links. The aventail terminates into dags of various sizes. 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.

    Hunting scenes are very popular motifs for Persian arms and armor of the eighteen and especially nineteenth centuries. The fish is a significant Islamic symbol; according to the old Islamic cosmology, the earth sits on the cosmic bull, which stands on the cosmic fish, which floats above the universal waters. Additionally, the prophet Khizr discovered the fountain of immortality by accidentally dropping his lunch of fish into the miraculous waters and watched it come back to life. As a result, he was transported to Paradise. Similar hunting scenes can be found on OA 1803, OA 1829, and OA 1845. A similar helmet is in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, 02.5.7.