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Strengthened with silk 

Detail of shield (kalkan), 17th century, XXVIA.126. Royal Armouries, CC BY 4.0

Shield (kalkan) (XXVIA.126)

This shield is dome shaped and has a decorative central iron boss. It is made from cane wrapped in coloured silk. The attractive, repetitive geometric shapes on this 17th century shield are typical of Islamic or Ottoman decoration. Despite the cane and silk construction, the shields were more than capable of deflecting sword blows or incoming arrows, and were perfectly suited to the highly mobile style of warfare favoured throughout the Islamic world. While the shield is now believed to have come from Turkey, there was some ambiguity about its initial classification. It was originally part of the Old Tower collection, being acquired before 1859. In 1870 it was catalogued as one of four 'Nubian' wicker-cane shields. This differing initial categorisation raises discussion about provenance research and how our understanding of Asian and African arms and armour has improved over the last century.

View the Shield in our collection