Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cuirass (Char-aina)

late 18th–early 19th century
Indian or Iranian
Steel, gold, textile
of breastplate H. 13 in. (33 cm); of backplate H. 15 1/2 in. (39.37 cm); of sides H. 9 5/8 in. (24.5 cm); of whole cuirass W. 11 1/4 in. (28.5 cm); of whole cuirass D. 9 1/2 in. (24 cm); of whole cuirass Wt. 7 lb. (3163 g)
Armor Parts-Cuirasses
Credit Line:
Gift of Harry G. Friedman, 1948
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 379
The Arabic inscriptions stress God as the God of Light, the rewards He will give His servants, and His punishment of unbelievers and evildoers. The light imagery is particulary appropriate for gold embellished armors of "four mirror" (char-aina) type.
Inscription: Inscriptions are in Arabic

In the border of the back plate:

الله نور السماوات والأرض مثل نوره كمشكاة فيها مصباح المصباح في زجاجة الزجاجة كأنها كوكب دري يوقد من شجرة مباركة زيتونة لا شرقية ولا غربية يكاد زيتها يضيء ولو لم تمسسه نار نور على نور يهدي الله لنوره من يشاء ويضرب الله الأمثال للناس والله بكل شيء عليم

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.
[Moustapha Avigdor Galleries, Boston, by 1948; sold to MMA].
Grancsay, Stephen V. "The New Galleries of Oriental Arms and Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16, no. 9 (May 1958). p. 245, ill. (backplate).

Grancsay, Stephen V., and Stuart W. Pyhrr. Arms & Armor: Essays by Stephen V. Grancsay from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1920–1964. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986. p. 447, figs. 109.3, 109.4.

Allan, James, and Brian J. J. Gilmour. Persian Steel: The Tanavoli Collection. Oxford studies in Islamic art; 15. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. p. 136.

Makariou, Sophie, and Charlotte Maury. Three Empires of Islam: Istanbul, Isfahan, Delhi; Master Pieces of the Louvre Collection. Valencia: Fundación Bancaja, 2008. p. 183, no. 2, ill.

Alexander, David, Stuart W. Pyhrr, and Will Kwiatkowski. Islamic Arms and Armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. pp. ii, 56–59, no. 17, ill.

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