Indian Helmet With Gold Inlaid Decoration
Of shallow domed form, this helmet is engraved with six concentric undulating bands. The applied finial at the top of the helmet is elaborately decorated with a circular band of palmette which is covered in koftgari. Beneath the finial is a band of inscription complemented by vegetal motifs applied using koftgari technique. Another band of inscription along the rim is made using the same technique. Slightly above the inscription band is a noseguard fitting and a plume holder, they both have palmette shaped finials with koftgari designs; the noseguard fitting finials is inscribed with “Yā Allah.” The original chainmail neck guard is attached to the rim.
The inscription at the rim includes Qur'an, sura al-Baqara (II), verse 255, invocations to God, Qur'an, sura al-Saff (LXI), parts of verse 13 and the phrase: 'There is no youth as brave as 'Ali, no sword as sharp as dhu'l-faqar'.
The shallow form of the helmet suggests it is likely to have been produced in the 17th century, for a group of helmets sharing the same characteristics are now in the National Museum collection at New Delhi (61.678/7; 61.936a; 63.512; 77.17279.420e). Additionally, the delicate shape of the palmettes as plume holder and noseguard fitting finials also match those at the National Museum. The engraved design can be compared to a 17th-18th century North Indian helmet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (29.158.50).
National Museum of India., G. N. Pant, K. K. Sharma, and National Museum of India. Indian Armours in the National Museum Collection: A Catalogue. New Delhi: National Museum, 2001.