An Ottoman Leg Guard, c. 1480

An Ottoman Leg Guard,

Item ref: 2192

  • Ottoman Empire
  • Steel and silver
  • 43.5 cm / 17.1 in x 9 cm / 7.5 in

Provenance:

Struck with the mark of the Imperial Ottoman arsenal, in the former church of Hagia Eirene, Istanbul
Probably dispersed from the arsenal by order of Sultan Abdül Mecid I In 1839–40
Private collection, USA

Such leg guards protected the outer lower legs of a warrior on horseback; Qur’anic inscriptions decorate the finest examples, frequently, as here, overlaid in silver. The engraved Arabic inscriptions on this guard:

Al sultan.. / Al Malik..

(The King / The Absolute Ruler)

refers to the earthly ruler and the divine ruler, Allah, respectively. The inclusion of one of the Al-Asma al-Husna (Ninety-Nine Beautiful names of Allah) also imbued this piece with talismanic powers of protection.

A similar pair of leg guards is found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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