Place of Origin: Qajar Empire (Modern-Day Iran)
Date: 19th Century
Overall Height: 660mm (26 Inches)
Diameter: 200mm (7 ¾ Inches)
Etched over the steel dome of this captivating helmet (or kulah khud) are flourishing flowerheads which simultaneously fill gold-lined panels designed to mimic the feathers of a peacock whose neck and head form a striking centrepiece. Overlaid lines of gold convey the tufted texture of the bird’s face, and pins with gilt finials have been inserted at the top of the head to represent the “crest”. Moreover, in forging the helmet’s bowl with a gently arched ridge, the armourer has cleverly created a mimetic contrast against the frontal section of the helmet, which has been etched with further flowers in bloom and at the centre depicts the calming face of the “Lion-and-Sun” symbol (or Širo Xoršid) popularly used in Qajar work, and which would go on to become the national emblem of Iran, the sun-rays here overlaid with lines in gold.
Complete with twin plume holders - which originally may have held the blue-and-green feathers of peacocks in keeping with the helmet’s structural theme - a nasal bar, and multi-tailed, the helmet is a persuasive testament to the creativity often exhibited in the Persian metalware of this period.
A kulah khud (Inventory Number B.O. 5038) with near-identical decorative schema is preserved within the collection of the Hermitage museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, though the condition of our example is slightly superior (the Hermitage’s helmet lacks one of the three slots inserted at the top of the head, and the upper half of the peacock’s beak is bent).