Kulah khud helmet with "Devil's Head" - 997.140.3_2

997.140.3_2

Kulah khud helmet with "Devil's Head"

Medium:Wrought steel with gilding
Geography: Northern India
Date: c 1850-1900
Dimensions:
45 x 18 cm
Object number: 997.140.3
Not on view
DescriptionThe so-called "Devil's Head" helmet has a significant tradition in Persianate culture, the great hero Rustam of the Persian national epic the Shah Nameh had a helmet made of the head of a demon or "div" that he had defeated. Wearing the armour of heroes was an important part of Persian Shi'a festivals, and in the 19th century armour was made specificaly for these festivals and some of these have horns. Typically the sliding nasal, an essential protection during battle for this general type of helmet, is not functional on these ceremonial helmets. However, judging by its shallow bowl and decoration this helmet would have been made in Northern India in the Persianate Mughal domains, who were Sunni, not Shi'a. In this case it is more likely that the "exotic" horned helmet would be suitable to the tastes of European tourists which would become the primary market for arms and armour makers in Northern India after the mid-19th century.
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