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KULAH KHUD

Place of Origin: PERSIA

Date: 18th - 19th Century

Overall Height: 2750mm (70 inches)

Bowl Diameter: 195mm (7 ¾ inches)

Reference: 331

Status: Reserved

Full Description:

This Persian helmet or ‘kulah khud’ has been carefully constructed and closely decorated with a variety of Quranic verses.

Atop the wootz steel dome of the helmet – the surface of which exhibits an array of dark watered whorls – sits a gently sloping conical spike which is secured in place with small rivets and decorated at its base with a sequence of golden trefoils, above which tapering panels divided by thin gold lines depict stylised cypress trees. Four arched calligraphic cartouches then rest just above the brim of the helmet’s bowl, each containing a short chapter from the Qur’an, suras 109, 112, 113, and 114, which are known collectively as “The Four Quls” (this name taken from the beginning word of each invocation in these verses, “Qul”, which translates to “Say!”). The slightly raised lower edge of the helmet then is further overlaid in gold with “The Throne Verse” (Qur’an 2, verse 255), which sits between rows of the same gilt trefoils that appear on the helmet’s conical spike.

Three plume holders are also attached to the front of the helmet, each with a plaque at their base which has been first cleverly cut to resemble a type of stylised flowerhead in its shape, and then overlaid in gold on its surface with leaved flowers – brass rivets securing the plume-holders to the helmet bowl but also functioning decoratively as the centres of the flowerheads on each plaque. An adjustable nasal bar of rectangular section is attached below, formed at either end to present a floral outline which mirrors that of the plaques above and decorated en suite in gold.

Finally, the low edge of the helmet has been pierced with a precise row of small holes for suspending a ‘four-tailed’ camail of riveted iron links.

The decoration of the cone, composed of stylised cypress leaves, is repeated on a helmet believed to date to the Safavid period (circa 1501-1722 A.D.) and preserved in the Military Museum in Tehran, Museum Inv. No. 14.[1] The present example also shows some similarities to No. 45 in Runjeet Singh’s Arms and Armour of the East 2015, p. 104, particularly with regards to the form of the conical top-spike attached to the helmet bowl.


[1] See Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani, Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period, published by Legat Verlag (Germany), 2006, p. 717, Cat No. 408.