Indian Suit of Armour
Place of Origin: Bijapur, India
Date: 17th Century
Called a zereh bagtar, this is a rare form of Indian armour and was probably produced in the ‘Adilshahi capital, Bijapur, sometime in the 17th century. This particular example comes from the armoury at Bikaner, Rajasthan, where the majority of armours had large rectangular plates at the front and rows of small plates at the back—shirts of the type shown here were the exception.
It is constructed of mail and narrow plates and opens completely down the centre with only a short opening up the centre of the back. The mail is composed of solid (forge-welded) and riveted rings, the heaviest and most densely constructed sections being reserved for the sleeves, the ends of which taper to a point. The plate components are arranged into a series of columns and consist of small, overlapping pieces meticulously assembled. These columns narrow slightly towards the bottom and each is separated from its neighbour by rows of mail, with the same arrangement repeated on the back. A pair of larger plates with old repairs evident protects the kidneys.
A Devanagari inscription on the inside of the right ‘kidney plate’ mentions the name of Maharajah Anup Singh of Bikaner (1669–98) and records the fact that this shirt entered the armoury at Bikaner in Rajasthan when the Maharajah Anup Singh defeated the ‘Adilshahi Dynasty at the Siege of Adoni in 1689.
Mounted on a padded mannequin, the armour is complemented by a coif of fine riveted mail that has a frontal, triangular section which can be hooked out of the way to aid the wearer’s vision. The coif is surmounted by a disc and tubular plume holder.
Provenance: American Art Market
Formerly in the Armoury at Bikaner