This fabulous 17th century armour is composed of 5,840 plates and weighs 118kg, some plates are missing and originally the total number would be 8,439 and weigh 159kg! The tusk swords that accompany this armour (not on display) weigh in at 10kg.
It is the only animal armour of this scale on public display and recently entered the Guinness Book of Records as the largest animal armour in the world.
Acquired in India by Lady Clive, wife of Edward, 2nd Lord Clive (Governor of Madras), between 1798 and 1800, and brought back to England in 1801; displayed in the Elephant Room at Powis Castle. Placed on loan to the Armouries in 1949 for conservation.
Presented to the nation in lieu of death duty by the Earl of Powis in 1962 and placed in the care of the Armouries.
There is a copy of this armour, made in England, in a private collection in America.
- Until the widespread introduction of firearms war elephants were a dominant force in Indian warfare.
- Many were provided with complete armours, yet this is the only near-complete surviving example in the world.
- Arms and armour from India form the largest part of the Royal Armouries Asian collection, and include the largest armour in the whole collection, the only elephant armour in captivity.
- Probably made in one of the arsenals of the Mughal Empire in northern India in the late 16th or early 17th century, in its present state, with two of its mail and plate panels missing, it weighs 142 kg.
- It is made of some 8450 iron plates joined by rows of riveted mail.
- The armour also has a pair of tusk swords, with heavy sockets to fit the elephant’s sworn-off tusks and fierce wavy blades with strong armour piercing points.