Rhino Hide Shield
Place of Origin: India
Date: 19th Century
Overall Diameter: 470mm (18.5 Inches)
This heavy Indian shield (or dhal) is exceptionally rare and formed from a thick rhinoceros hide – likely from the animal’s shoulder. The shield has been left partly untreated, and so exhibits an almost stony surface which shows an array of orange and earthy hues, four copper-alloy bosses attached to the centre and formed with spiked borders.
The reverse shows a lighter colour throughout as well as the expected iron rings and straps for suspension, though rather less expected are the washers visible at the base of each ring. These are, in fact, East India Company coins – EIC half Annas (1835-1845) to be more precise. Their appearance here is exceedingly rare, and the archaic green patina they have acquired over the years is a captivating indicator of the shield’s lively history.
We thank Grish Vira of Oswal Auctions in Mumbai, India, for his identification of the coins.