Indo-Persian 'Zirah' mail shirt
Region: North-India or Persia
Period: 17th/18th century.
Materials: Iron, Brass, Fabric
Chainmail was worn among a wide selection of cultures reaching from Europe to East-Asia and proved effective against sword strikes. The basic form of chainmail is made of iron rings, often riveted in an interlooping pattern creating an entire shirt, trousers or aventail. The Indian word for chainmail shirt is called ‘zirah’ or ‘zirah bagtar’ and is adopted widely among the Persian, Ottoman, Eastern Europe and Indian armies from the 15th to even the late 19th century. The type of manufacturing varies within most cultures, but the Islamic and Eastern European were often forged in moulds, drilled and riveted. Sometimes armour plates were attached to the front and back of the armour to provide additional protection.
A scarce and early mailshirt dating from the 17th century. The small rings are carefully riveted and consist of 1 mm thick iron with a diameter of 7mm which is incredibly hard and time-consuming to manufacture. The shirt consists of a long body with attached long sleeves and a padded collar decorated with fine Chintz fabric depicting a wild variation of flowers and foliage.
The outlines of the ‘zirah’ are decorated with brass rings, probably added later since they are not riveted and just hung together.
The neck features a ‘kulah zirah’ aventail made of very fine rings of which the majority is riveted and alternated with brass ring of which some are riveted too. The rings on the aventail are 1 mm thick and just 4 to 5mm in diameter. The entire shirt was taken care of throughout the centuries, some small parts show old genuine restores which indicate the shirt was likely worn over generations.
Condition: Good condition, some old period repairs and slightly rusted on some places. Worn fabric in the collar and aventail. Further good condition. (Bust not included in the sale)
Largest mail ring diameter: 8mm
Smallest mail ring diameter: 4mm
Provenance: French art market
– H. Russel Robinson ‘Oriental Armour’
– G. Cameron Stone ‘a Glossary of the construction, decoration dn use of Arms and Armour’
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