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


This helmet is the only known example of armor to survive from the entire Nasrid period in Spain (1230–1492). Traditionally, it is said it belonged to Abd 'Abd Allāh Muhammad, known in the West as Boabdil, the last Nasrid king of Granada (reigned 1482–83 and 1487–92) before it was reconquered by the Spanish.

The helmet has the form of a typical Spanish sallet of the late fifteenth century, with cutouts over the eyes inspired by Islamic examples. The decoration, however, is extraordinarily rich and distinctive. The steel is covered entirely in a layer of gold leaf that is finely engraved with geometric and foliate designs; the edges are trimmed with silver. Delicate cloisonné enamels, evocative of Nasrid jewelry, are inset overall, further distinguishing this helmet as one of great rarity, quality, and beauty.