A late 16th to early 17th century Mongolian ceremonial helmet from the Moscow Kremlin Armoury

L. A. Bobrov, S. P. Orlenko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article describes a richly decorated iron helmet from the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Armoury. The specimen has never been analyzed in detail before. It has been ascertained that it was one of the gifts sent by the Khotogoid Lama Erdeni Dai Mergen Nangso to the Russian Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov on January 14, 1635. The helmet was handed over to the State Treasury no later than November 29, 1636, and later transferred to the Armoury. Apart from the helmet proper, the headgear in its initial condition includes a tripartite aventail made of narrow iron plates and decorated with colored velvet and silk, a cloth arming cap, and yellow satin straps, which were tied under the warrior's chin. All the organic parts have been missing since the early 1700s. The base of the apex and the peak are covered with inscriptions in Sanskrit, containing the Simhamukha Mantra. This mantra was meant to protect the warrior from adverse charms and weapons. The technological analysis suggests that letters on the base of the apex were gilded, and those on the peak, silvered. Initially, the Armoury experts identified the helmet as a "Manchu hat". The typological analysis suggests that the headgear was made by Central Asian (Mongolian or Oirat) artisans in the late 16th or early 17th century. The specimen may be used as a standard for dating and attributing randomly found and unattributed combat and ceremonial headgear worn by Late Medieval and Early Modern Central Asian nomads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
JournalArchaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Armoury
  • Helmets
  • Khotogoids
  • Mongols
  • Moscow Kremlin
  • Oirats
  • Protective weapons




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