«Шапка колмыцкая болшая» из собрания Музеев Московского Кремля

Translated title of the contribution: 'Kalmyk Shapka Bolshaya': An Oirat Helmet from the Moscow Kremlin Museums Collection

Leonid A. Bobrov, Sergei P. Orlenko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction. The article explores a helmet of the last quarter of the 17th century stored in the Moscow Kremlin Museums collection and mentioned in the Armory Chamber's documents as 'Kalmyk shapka bolshaya' (Russ. 'big Kalmyk cap'; current inventory no. OP-2059). Previously, the helmet attracted the attention of artists and historians but has never been investigated in an independent scholarly study. Goals. The work seeks to describe the construction and design of the helmet, clarify the dating and attribution, reconstruct its potential original appearance. Results. Analysis of the materials used classifies the helmet as an iron object, that of the design of the crown refers it to riveted ones, and the dome crown shape clusters the item with spherocylindrical helmets. The paper specifies that the helmet is integral to the Oirat spherocylindrical helmet group ('jug-shaped', 'vase-shaped') of the Late Middle Ages and early Modern Period. Supposedly, the craftsmen to have made such helmets were inspired by Buddhist stupas (Kalm. suburgan). The construction and design features (including Buddhist symbols on the crown), as well as the insight into official documents of the Kremlin Armory make it possible to suggest that the 'Big Kalmyk Cap' was forged by Oirat or Southern Siberian gunsmiths for a wealthy Oirat Buddhist warrior in the 1610s - early 1680s (the earlier date is included as one to mark the beginning of the wide spread of Buddhism among Oirats). The helmet was transferred to the Armory Chamber in the mid-to-late 17th century, however no later than 1682 when it was first mentioned in official Russian state papers. In 1683-1687, the helmet was equipped with a comforter and an aventail (presumably a Central Asian-type one). Subsequently, it became a subject of restoration. In the late 19th - early 20th century at the earliest, a ringed aventail was attached to it. The comprehensive analysis of the sources available made it possible to reconstruct the likely initial appearance of the helmet. Conclusions. The 'Big Kalmyk Cap' is a striking sample of 17th-century Oirat helmets. It can be used as a reference benchmark in the dating and attribution of Central Asian helmets of the specified period. Culturally, the 'Big Kalmyk Cap' can be clustered with the most important historical relics of the ethnos.

Translated title of the contribution'Kalmyk Shapka Bolshaya': An Oirat Helmet from the Moscow Kremlin Museums Collection
Original languageRussian
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1184-1217
Number of pages34
JournalOriental Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Dzungars
  • Kalmyk helmets
  • Kalmyk shapkas
  • Kalmyks
  • Oirat helmets
  • Oirats


  • 5.04 SOCIOLOGY
  • 6.01.MM HISTORY

State classification of scientific and technological information



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