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Date: Circa 1560 - 1580

Overall: 280mm high (11 Inches)

Reference: 355

Status: Sold

Full Description:

Forged from a single piece of steel, this helmet presents a rare and fascinating case study into cultural fusion, mirroring in its conical form and etched decoration the Ottoman çiçak helmet-type, despite its manufacture in Nuremberg, a well-known centre of armour manufacture in 16th-century Germany.

Above the helmet’s brim, a shallowly sunken horizontal band has been etched to depict intertwining foliage on a flecked ground. Struck with the mark of the Nuremberg armoury, the helmet is fixed at its front with a single bracket, which would have kept the helmet’s nasal guard securely in place. Above this, the helmet is engraved with the Ottoman inscription for ‘Mohammed’ as well as a character resembling the letter ‘c’. Around the brim are six suspension loops and pierced holes, once likely used to hold an aventail and other accoutrements. The main body of the helmet then has been embossed to exhibit slender fluting filled throughout with etched foliate patterns in the Ottoman style. Rather pleasingly, the decorative motifs come in pairs, so that the patterning of one flute mirrors the one that follows it. The helmet’s main section tapers to a sharp point with an engraved acorn finial at its apex.

Likely taken by the Turks during the Austro-Turkish War (1591-1606), this helmet was produced in Germany at a time of heightened tensions and ongoing conflict with the Ottoman Empire. Manufactured in Nuremberg for export to Central or Eastern Europe, the helmet is a captivating testament to their courts’ interest in the unfamiliar yet vibrant arms and armour of their Ottoman foes. By the middle of the 16th century, in fact, parades in the Turkish (Hungarian) style were a feature in the courts of the Hapsburgs in Vienna and Prague.

The mark that reads ‘Mohammed’ or ‘Mehmed’ may be either an arsenal mark or a reference to the reign of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet III (1595-1603), who defeated the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Mezokeresztes in 1596.

A similar helmet, also made in Nuremberg, is preserved in the Wallace Collection (Inv. No. A104). Another forms part of the important collection of arms and armour bequeathed in 1977 by C. Otto von Kienbusch to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Accession Number 1977-167-107), and is particularly relevant here for the similarity of its etched foliate decoration to that on the present example.


Pierre Berge & Associés and Hermann Historica, Lot 89 (“A rare etched skull of a Nuremberg light Cavalry Zischägge in the Ottoman fashion”), The Karsten Klingbeil Collection, Brussels, Tuesday 13th December 2011.

Sotheby’s Parke Bernet A.G., Lot 76, Anonymous Sale, Zurich, 25th November 1980.

Private European collection


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