Very rare antique, 18th – early 19th century, Indian Mughal period, a shield of a Christian Indian warrior, buckler. The shield is embellished in the center with a large Christian cross of St. Thomas (Mar Thoma Sleeva). This distinctive cross is the religious and cultural symbol of Saint Thomas Christians in India, also called Syrian Christians of India, Marthoma Suriyani Nasrani, Malankara Nasrani, or Nasrani Mappila.
The shield is made of hand hammered solid brass. The front is finely hand chiseled, embellished throughout with red and black enamel, and has a silver overlay. The back of the shield is silver plated.
The shield's center is adorned with a large Saint Thomas Christian cross (Mar Thoma Sleeva), red enameled and ornamented with creeper designs. Each lobed terminal is decorated with two interlocking small Saint Thomas Christian crosses, one brass and the second overlaid in silver.
The shield is set with four domed bosses, affixed on the reverse by four faceted bolts with rings for straps (to hold the shield).
The Saint Thomas cross on the shield indicates that the buckler was custom made for the Saint Thomas Christian Indian warrior.
This type of small shield buckler has been used by Indian warriors in hand-to-hand combat throughout the Indian subcontinent for centuries. Its small size made it useful in deflecting the blow of an opponent's sword. Lightness and curved center help maneuverability when dealing with the sword blades. Excellent for deflecting attacking blades and could be used to directly attack an opponent by punching with either its flat face or rim, and was used to bind an opponent's sword hand and weapon as well as their buckler against their body.
1. For the information regarding the St. Thomas (Mar Thoma Sleeva). Christian cross and the information regarding The Saint Thomas Christians of India Please see the Link below:
2. A similar small shield is on display at the Indian Museum with an armored Indian Mughal warrior from the 17th-18th centuries (last picture in the listing).
3. A related enameled brass shield from the collection of the National Museum of New Delhi, dated by museum experts to the 18th – 19th century, is published in the book "Indian Armours in the National Museum Collection Catalogue" by G.N. Pant and K.K. Sharma on page 66-67, figure 44.
4. Another shield similar in form but without the cross is in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.
Please see the link below:
The buyer will be provided with a copy of the pages from the mentioned references together with a certificate of authenticity.
MEASUREMENTS: Diameter: 22.5 cm (8.86 inches)
CONDITION: It is in good condition with an old patina, showing age and use.