Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Turban Helmet

late 15th century
Western Iranian, in the style of Turkman armor
Steel, iron, silver, copper alloy
H. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm); Wt. 3 lb. 5 oz. (1496 g)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1904
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
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.
Inscription: Nine medallions inscribed individually: "Power" (or "Sovereignty"); "the Sultan"; "the knowing"; "Sovereignty"; "complete" ("complete sovereignty"); [?]; "the mass" ("the crowd"?); "the blesses"; "the world" (?); on the top of the helmet bowl: "Everlasting glory and prosperity and power; the sultan and ..."; on the nasal: possibly a name, but not easily decipherable (Partial reading by Manuel Keene, Islamic Department, 1973).

Marking: Stamped with the Constantinople armory mark.
Ex coll.: Duc de Dino, Paris.
Cosson, Charles Alexander. Le Cabinet d'Armes de Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc de Dino. Paris: E. Rouveyre, 1901. p. 113, no. N. 11.

Stone, George Cameron. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times, Together with Some Closely Related Subjects. Portland, Maine, 1934. p. 41, fig. 54.

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. 83-84, cat. no. 28, ill.

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