Signed Dhal Shield
Place of Origin: Gujarat, India
Date: 19th Century
A beautifully painted Indian shield dhal from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The convex shield, with rolled edge, is made from treated animal hide which is translucent when held to the light. The centre has a painted roundel of floral patterns, with an outer sunburst in gold. The main area of the shield has a deep-red repeating floral patterns on a black background. The outer rim is painted with a thick off-white to match one of the central discs and surrounded with another sunburst. Four brass bosses are located on a textile base so as not to damage the painted surface.
The rear is painted with a gold border, and scattered gold circular decoration. Iron rings, and a purple silk covered pad with brocade border. Signed by the maker on the outer edge:
Khooshal Dhunjee & Sons
Painter and Shield Maker
A similar shield was presented to the Prince of Wales 1875-76 by the Nawab of Balasinor, Bombay Presidency (The Royal Collection, RCIN: 38128). Translucent hide dhals painted in this distinctive style were a renowned speciality of Ahmedabad, and this maker’s particular address records the eponymous centre of that trade.
Elgood, Introduction essay to Arms and Armour at Sandringham, Reprint 2008.