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Place of Origin: Hyderabad, India

Date: 17th-18th Century

Reference: 361

Status: Available

Full Description:

A steel cuirass from the armoury of the Nizam of Hyderabad, India, in the European style.  The armoury contained a number of these armours, but this one is unusual in its wide proportions, it was clearly ‘tailored’ for a well-fed man.

Many of the group were inscribed with a date and the name ‘Sarkar Mir Nizam ‘Ali Khan Bahadur’ (1734-1803), who was given the title Nizam by the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah and subsequently ruled in Hyderabad in the Deccan under the name of Asaf Jah II (1762-1803).  Alexander (1) suggests that these inscribed armours were for a specially commissioned series, perhaps for a corps of bodyguards.  The fact the one shown here has no inscription could mean it was specially commissioned, or left the armoury before the inventory.

The cuirass is composed of a breast and backplate attached at the shoulder and sides with iron hinges (some later replacements), held with decorative iron pins.  The breastplate is shaped as a stylised ‘muscled torso’, with double engraved lines accentuating the pectorals and with a sharp median ridge bulging to allow sufficient room for the ample frame of the wearer.

The neck and arm openings have applied iron borders with a rolled outer edge and a serrated inner edge decorated with a row of punched dots.  The border at the neck is extended at the center with a stylised palmette.

The back plate is shaped slightly over the shoulder blades which are also accentuated by double engraved lines, and has a shallow groove down the center (a small hole to the left shoulder blade).  An upright rear iron collar with an applied border, the base extending into a stylised palmette, the bottom edge of the backplate has a matching palmette.

A similar example is in the Metropolitan museum. New York (acc. no.29.158.165a, b) (2), and in the Nasser D.Khalili Collection of Islamic Art (3).

(1) Alexander, Islamic Arms and Armour – In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015, p.53.

(2) Alexander, Islamic Arms and Armour – In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015, p.52-52,

(3) Alexander, The Arts of War: The Nasser D.Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, 1992, p.175,


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