Date: early 17th century

Culture: Turkish

Medium: Copper alloy (tombak), gold

Dimensions: H. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm); Diam. 8 in. (20.3 cm); Wt. 2 lb. 8 oz. (1134 g)

Classification: Helmets

Credit Line: From the Collection of Nina and Gordon Bunshaft, Bequest of Nina Bunshaft, 1994

Accession Number: 1995.68


In the sixteenth century, a new type of armor was created in the Ottoman empire, consisting of helmets, shields, and chanfrons (horse's head defenses) made entirely of gilt copper, known as tombak in Turkish. Because of the softness of copper, the armor must have been intended only for ceremonial use, possibly for the sultan's bodyguard. On this tombak helmet, the lower edge has a punched inscription in Arabic that reads, "What was made for His Excellency the emir 'Uthman, the banner-bearer, son of the emir 'Ali." Despite its now rough condition, this helmet evidently belonged to a high-ranking Ottoman officer, one whose exact identity and dates of service remain to be discovered.