The 'Moustache masked' helmet
Dates from about 1525 | German | Object number: IV.29
This helmet has a most unusual visor in the form of a human face. It is a virtuoso example of metalworking: the moustache and nose were not attached but made as one with the visor. The moustache would have been particularly difficult to make.
Did you know?
- Enough metal had to be allowed for the moustache to be drawn evenly out of a single plate, then twisted and folded back underneath the nose. It is a fine example of embossing, the art of drawing and raising steel.
- This helmet could be worn in both parades and tourney combats. The knight breathed not through the nose but through the many holes at either side. The cheeks look puffed out, giving life to the face. This illustrates one of the most wonderful features of armour: however bizarrely decorated, it could be practical too.
- An extraordinary feature of this helmet is the inner, barred visor beneath the human face-mask. The outer mask is removable, allowing the helmet to be used in tourney combats when teams of mounted knights fought each other. The neck of the helmet is shaped to fit tightly over the armour’s collar so that no weapon could penetrate between them.
- The wearing of a moustache could have been part of the fancy-dress in the parades that were part of tournament festivities. By the late Middle Ages there had long been a tradition of wearing masks as part of costumes for special occasions and to take on the role of a character. What did this moustache signify: masculinity, age or status? Unfortunately nobody is certain.
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