Helmet (Sallet)

Date: late 15th–early 16th century

Geography: possibly Granada

Culture: Spanish, possibly Granada

Medium: Steel, gold, silver, enamel

Dimensions: H. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm); W. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm); D. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm); Wt. 3 lb. 12 oz. (1701 g)

Classification: Helmets

Credit Line: From the Lord Astor of Hever Collection, Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 1983

Accession Number: 1983.413

Description

This helmet is traditionally thought to have belonged to Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad, known in the West as Boabdil, the last Nasrid king of Granada (r. 1482–83, 1487–92). If so, it is the only known example of armor to have survived from the Nasrid period in Spain (1238–1492).

The helmet has the form of a typical Spanish sallet of the late fifteenth century. The cutouts over the eyes, however, were inspired by those of Islamic helmets. The extraordinarily rich decoration, which includes cloisonné enamels and finely tooled designs in gold leaf, has close parallels in surviving Nasrid sword fittings and jewelry. The bowl has been pierced to fit the enamels and is lined with riveted plates to support them, indicating that the helmet was created exclusively for ceremonial use.

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