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India, 18th century
Helmet: steel, silver leaf, engraved and gilt decoration; H. 50 cm; Diam. 21 cm
Mail-coat: silver, copper, brass; lining: velvet, copper nails; H. 86 cm; W. 62 cm
Arm-pieces: steel, silver leaf; lining: velvet, chased and gilt decoration; H. 51.6 cm; W. 10 cm
Corselet: steel; silver leaf, chased and gilt decoration; lining: velvet; H. 29.7 cm; W. 22.9 cm and H. 25 cm; W. 19 cm
Musée du Louvre, Baroness Salomon de Rothschild bequest, 1922
OA 7544

It is often difficult to distinguish Safavid arms and armor from those used in Mughal India. The two empires had strong cultural links, and there was considerable circulation of objects and artisans between the two regions. A reliable attribution can often only be made on the basis of inscriptions or typical decorative elements. The armor presented here exemplifies a type found in both India and Iran but the “lattice and blossom” decoration is typically Indian.
If they were to be able to charge, stop to fight, and retreat while harassing the enemy with volleys of arrows, the cavalry needed to be as mobile and light as possible. This requirement is revealed in their protective armor, for although it provided a high level of protection, it was not heavy, and did not weigh them down or impede their movements. Indian and Persian armor was very flexible. Only the most important parts of the body – the chest and other areas exposed to blows (the forearms and the head for example) – were heavily protected by plate armor, which was decorated on the outside, and lined with textile inside.

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© RMN / Lewandowski