«Шапки калмыцкие» в собрании Оружейной палаты Московского Кремля

Translated title of the contribution: ‘Kalmyk Caps’ of the Kremlin Armoury

Leonid A. Bobrov, Sergei P. Orlenko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction. In the 17th century, the Kremlin Armoury (Moscow) stored the biggest collection of Central Asian helmets (‘Kalmyk caps’, Rus. shapka) in Europe. Introduction of the materials into scientific discourse remains a priority task. Goals. The paper seeks to identify stages in the formation of the ‘Kalmyk Caps’ Collection, describe the items in detail, and specify the actual conditions of their storage and maintenance in the museum. Results. The first richly decorated Central Asian helmets are reported to have arrived in the Kremlin Armoury since the early 17th century as diplomatic gifts from Mongol and Oirat rulers. In the mid-17th century, the collection grew through acquisitions of helmets made in Sothern Siberia and received by Russian authorities from Kuznetsk Tatars (historical ancestors of the Shors). The latter headgears were simpler and seem to resemble those delivered by Kuznetsk Tatars to Oirat warriors as alman (tribute) and in exchange for cattle. Arsenals of the Russian nobility proved the third and final source of the collection. As a result, in the late 17th century the Kremlin Armoury contained about 100 ‘Kalmyk shapkas’. The study shows the common opinion characterizing ‘Kalmyk caps’ as identical to ‘shapka bumazhnaya’ (cotton-wool helmets) is actually wrong. All the headgears constituting the collection are riveted iron helmets of different types. Moscow masters would modify ‘Kalmyk shapkas’ in the 1660-1670s through attaching plated aventails, arming caps, chinstraps, and plumes. At the same time, the Kremlin Armoury started producing plated kuyaks (body armors) that supposedly imitated Central Asian samples. From 1664 onwards, the Russian noblemen actively participated in military parades and diplomatic meetings wearing kuyaks and Kalmyk shapkas, vambraces and Kalmyk-style zarukavie (hand and arm protective gears). Conclusions. Particular attention to this type of Oirat armor in the late 1650-70s seems to have arisen not only from vivid interest of the Moscow nobility towards exotic Asian armory but rather due to active participation of the Kalmyks in Russian military campaigns. So, the fact the Russian nobility tended to wear Kalmyk shapkas and kuyaks during ceremonies or special events meant not only their desire to impress other attendees but was also to deliver the message — militant and victorious Kalmyks are now in the political orbit of the Tsardom of Muscovy.

Translated title of the contribution‘Kalmyk Caps’ of the Kremlin Armoury
Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)286-312
Number of pages27
JournalOriental Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • 5.04 SOCIOLOGY
  • 6.01.MM HISTORY

State classification of scientific and technological information

  • 03.23 History of Russia


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