Indian Armor in the State Hermitage Museum Sankt Petersburg

The State Hermitage Museum in Sankt Petersburg has a marvelous collection of Indian armor which will be presented as follows:

A studded armor of quilted fabric with gold-overlaid steel plates.  H. Russel Robinson (1995, pp. 101, 103) in the book "Oriental Armour" describes this armor as follows: 

"The coat was made in two sections, fastening over the shoulders and at the sides as far as the waist with buttons and loops, the skirt split to the waist at the centre of front and back. In the centre of the breast and back were fastened with nails large convex circular plates with a horizontal plate above them and one at each side - of a silmilar design as Perso-Turkish cuirass, but without the connecting mail. To the centre of the skirt sections, in front of the thighs, were fastened convex plates with pointed tops and squared bases. The larger shoulder flaps, which were separate and attached by loops and buttons, each had a central plate followig the pointed and lobated outline of the fabric. All the exposed areas of velvet between and around the plates were studded with patterns as desribed above.  The back section could be distinguished from the front by a vertical central flute running through the upper and central circular plates. These equipments were completed with an Indo-Persian helmet, a pair of vambraces (dastana) with matching studded velvet handguards, and a pair of high boots, also of matching pattern".

The State Hermitage Museum describes this magnificent armor as:

 

"Vestment for parade of a Moghul warrior.  Velvet, cloth, superimposing steel plates, metal rivets, engravings, stamping. The Moghuls, mid-18th century. From the former Arsenal of Tsarskoe Selo, 1885-1886".

 

A similar armor set from India is kept in the Wallace Collection, London and shown by Pant see "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983.  Pant writes (1983, p. 5):

 

"A complete armour suit. The bowl-shaped helmet is provided with a pointed spike, a sliding nasal flanked by one porte-aigrette on each side and long camail. The coat is made of layers of cotton faced with red velvet.  The outer surface is studded with thousand nails. The trousers is also made of the similiar material. Rajput, 18th century A.D." 

 

In the same book, Pant (1983, p. 118) shows the same set and adds:

 

"Brigandine, made entirely of quilted fabric and studded all over with gildt nails. The nails are bent over the back. On the surface they produce diamond design. The helmet does not form the part of this suit. It has a long coat reinforced with plates including a circular one on the chest and has scalloped flaps for the shoulders. The arms and legs are protected by the matching armour, Rajput, 18th centiry A.D."

H. Russel Robinson (1995, plate XV B) in the book "Oriental Armour" also shows the armor of Wallace Collection and calls it "Coat of Thousand Nails" and describes it as "studded armour reinforced with plates, Rajput, eighteenth to nineteenth century".

Further,  Robinson (1995, figure 52) distinguishes between four types of the "Coat of Thousand Nails" and even shows the piece of the Hermitage shown here and classifies it as Type D.

A similar bazuband from India is described by Pant in "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, p. 144.  Pant writes (1983, p. 144): 

"Sindhi Bajuband, the relatively less broad and oval-shaped arm-plate hinged with a single broad plate. All over decorated with floral design. The gauntlets are of steel scales, scalloped and connected by mail, Sindth (now in Pakistan), 18th century A.D.)".

 

Another similar bazuband from India is also presented by Pant in "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, p. 145.  Pant writes (1983, p. 145): 

"Bajuband, plain outer surface, the borders damascened in gold in floral design, fastened with buckles, comparatively broad single plate attached at the wrist. The gauntlet of leather fitted with steel scales".

An Indian steel helmet with a European design and a mail coif.  An extra plated is added like a wide hat rim to protect the forehead and all sides of the head. Its surface is richly decorated with gold-overlaying. The mail coif consist of extremely fine woven metal rings.

 

For another Indian helmet in European design see Pant "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, p. 84.  Pant writes (1983, p. 84):

 

"Chapel, helmet shaped like a European hat.  The spike is shaped like a bud with two leaves and the dome is slightly elongated. An extra plate is added to protect the forehead. The cheek-pieces are larger and terminate in a point. A camail is attached".

The State Hermitage Museum describes this pieces as "Helmet shaped as a silk hat with a chain mail. Steel, forging, damascening in gold, first part of 18th century. From the former Arsenal of Tsarskoe Selo, 1885-1886".

An Indian steel shield with silver-overlaid surface in floral and geometric design.  For Indian steel shields see Pant "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, pp. 97-98..  

A large Indian hide shield with laquered, painted and gilded surface.  It has six gilded buckles and three handle straps.  For Indian hide shields see Pant "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, pp. 94-95.  

An Indian helmet with a moveable nasal (nose protection).  The bowl is made of steel and partially gold-overlaid close to the helmet rim.  The mail coif consists of alternating steel and brass rings.  It has two feather holders. For a similar helmet see  Pant "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, p. 51.  

The Hermitage Museum desribes this armor as "Half-armour and a helmet for parade made in open-work.  Steel, forging, engraving, stamping, damasking in gold, India 18th-19th centuries. From the former Arsenal of Tsarskoe Selo, 1885-1886.

The Chahr Ayne consists of four different plates which are connected to each other via leather cords and clasps.  For similar chahr ayne pieces see Pant "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, pp. 112-113.  

A large Indian hide shield with six buckles and three handle straps.  For Indian hide shields see Pant "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, pp. 94-95.  

For a similar bazuband from India see Pant "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, p. 144.  

A waist-coat armor (chahr ayne). These plates are made of three to five plates which are hinged together at the sides.  This piece is made of steel with silver and gold overlay.  For more information see Pant "Indian Arms and Armour", Volume III, G.N. Pant, 1983, pp. 129-130. 

For two exact similar pieces see Moshtagh Khorasani (2010, p. 308, item 132):

 

"This is a steel shield in a circular shape.  The steel is made of crucible steel.  There are four shield buckles made of steel attached to the surface of the shield and its rings from behind via soldering and riveting.  Each shield buckle has ten petals made of steel and each buckle serves as the flowerhead.  Close to the shield rim, there is an indented area running across the whole shield.  There are right flowers made of brass that are connected to each other via a brass line in a creeping design.  All brass flowers and branches are riveted to the surface of the steel shield.  The surface of the shield is selectively gold-overlaid in geometrical design.   The back of the shield is covered with cotton and red velvet and has a cushion in the middle.  The cushion served to protect the hand during combat against the blunt trauma of an opponent's weapons.  There are four rings attached to each other with two handle straps covered with red velvet.  Pant (2001:96) shows a similar shield with similar flower design and attributes it to Tanjore (Tamilnadu)."

 

For another similar shield see Moshtagh Khorasani (2010, p. 300, item 128):

 

Oriental and Arab Antique Weapons and Armour: The Streshinskiy Collection
Author: Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani
Publisher: Antiga Arabia (Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates)
Number of pages: 334 pages
Printed in Italy, 2010

 

Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani