PAIR OF LEATHER DHAL (SHIELD)
Place of Origin: Kutch, Gujarat, India
Date: 19th century
Overall Diameter: 425MM (16 ¾ INCHES)
A pair of beautiful honey-coloured semi-translucent dhal (shields). The domed silver bosses show all the signs to suggest they were made in Kutch, with flowing foliate patterns created by repoussé and chasing techniques.
The shields are formed of thick Indian sambar (elk) hide and have been subject to “a process where hide shields are boiled in oil till they become transparent.”about:blank - _ftn1 (the shield is not transparent, but rather translucent when held to the light). The rear of each shield retains some traces of paint, as well as an original velvet knuckle-pad and handles.
Animal hide was commonly used to make shields in India as it is light in weight, but also durable enough to withstand blows from both bladed weapons and, reputedly, bullets.
A similar shield was Presented to King Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, during his tour of India in 1875-76 by Vibhaji II Ranmalji, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar.
UK art market
 Robert Elgood (introduction), “Indian Art in Marlborough House” in Arms and Armour at Sandringham: The Indian Collection presented by the Princes, Chiefs and Nobles of India to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his visit to India 1875-1876, London, 1910 (two volumes republished in facsimile editions, Ken Trotman Books, 2008).