Helmets of this type are usually called turban helmets because of their large bulbous shape and the flutings that imitate the folds of a turban. Because certain dervish groups wore turbans wound with a prescribed number of folds to represent an important mystical number, it is likely that turban helmets were regarded not merely as armor but also a kind of religious insignia, their very shape marking the wearer as a fighter in the Holy War. Turban helmets, together with mail-and-plate armor of matching decoration, were intended for the heavy cavalry and are recorded as early as the fourteenth century. This example appears to have belonged to the dynasty of the Ak-Koyunlu (White Sheep Turkoman) that ruled northwestern Iran and Anatolia in the fifteenth century. The inscriptions, damascened with gold and silver, glorify temporal rulers, wish the owner well, or give advice on how to attain virtue.
Marking: Stamped with the Constantinople armory mark.
Ex coll.: Duc de Dino, Paris.
Katonah. The Katonah Gallery. "Islamic Insights: An Introduction to Islamic Art," March 15–May 2, 1980.
Houston Museum of Natural Science. "The Heritage of Islam," March 10–May 30, 1982.
San Francisco. California Academy of Sciences. "The Heritage of Islam," July 2, 1982–January 2, 1983.
Pittsburgh. Carnegie Institute. "The Heritage of Islam," February 26–April 24, 1983.
Washington. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. "The Heritage of Islam," June 1–September 5, 1983.
Cosson, Charles Alexander. Le Cabinet D'armes De Maurice De Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc De Dino. Paris: E. Rouveyre, 1901. no. N. 3, pl. 8.
Artist: Workshop of Ahmed Tekelü (possibly Iranian, active Istanbul, ca. 1520–30)Date: ca. 1525–30Medium: Steel, gold, ivory (walrus), silver, turquoise, pearls, rubiesAccession: 1993.14On view in:Gallery 380