Sutton Hoo Helmet

Sutton Hoo Helmet, Detail, Anglo-Saxon Ship Burial, Sixth Century AD

Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, East Anglia, is the site of two Sixth and early Seventh Century cemeteries. One contained an undisturbed ship burial, including a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artefacts of outstanding art-historical and archaeological significance, most of which are now in the British Museum in London. The site is in the care of the National Trust.

Sutton Hoo is of primary importance to early medieval historians because it sheds light on a period of English history that is on the margin between myth, legend, and historical documentation. Use of the site culminated at a time when Rædwald, the ruler of the East Angles, held senior power among the English people and played a dynamic if ambiguous part in the establishment of Christian rulership in England; it is generally thought most likely that he is the person buried in the ship. The site has been vital in understanding the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of East Anglia and the whole early Anglo-Saxon period.

Winged Lobster-Tailed Burgonet

German/Polish Winged Lobster-Tailed Burgonet, circa 1700

One-piece skull embossed with six ridges and riveted visor, adjustable nasal bar and neck-guard of four lames. On the sides, two riveted heart-shaped wings embellished with geometric openwork. Attached cheek-pieces pierced with seven holes each (leather strap of the cheek-pieces an later addition). Height ca. 39 cm. Sold at auction: 7,200 Euros.

Art in Armor: The Kabuto; Photo Set 2

Art in Armor: The Kabuto; Photo Set 2

During the Momoyama period of intense civil warfare, kabuto were made to a simpler design of three or four plates, lacking many of the ornamental features of earlier helmets. To offset the plain, utilitarian form of the new helmet, and to provide visibility and presence on the battlefield, armorers began to build fantastic shapes on top of the simple helmets in harikake (papier-mâché mixed with lacquer over a wooden armature), though some were constructed entirely of iron.

These shapes mimicked forms from Japanese culture and mythology, including fish, cow horns, the head of the god of longevity, bolts of silk, head scarves, Ichi-no-Tani canyon, and axe heads, among many others. Some forms were realistically rendered, while others took on a very futuristic, modernist feel.

Mempo (also menpō, mengu or occasionally men yoroi), is the term for various types of facial armour worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan. The bottom two photos show the kabuto with the mempo.

The Kabuto

Art in Armor: The Kabuto

Kabuto (兜, 冑) is a type of helmet first used by ancient Japanese warriors, and in later periods, they became an important part of the traditional Japanese armour worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan.

Kabuto are often adorned with crests called datemono or tatemono; the four types of decorations were the maedate (frontal decoration), wakidate (side decorations), kashiradate (top decoration), and ushirodate (rear decoration). These can be family crests (mon), or flat or sculptural objects representing animals, mythical entities, prayers or other symbols. Horns are particularly common, and many kabuto incorporate kuwagata, stylized deer horns.

Persian Helmet and Shield


Persian Helmet and Shield, 1700s,

This Persian Helmet was fashioned circa 1700s in the style called chichak. It has a conical fluted skull, terminating in a short square spike, ear protection and a sliding nose guard passing through the peak. This style was commonly used by the cavalry of the Ottoman Empire.

The Persian and East Asian versions might have developed independently, with both influenced by earlier Mongol helmets. Conquest-era Mongol helmets were fairly diverse, bowls of various types of construction, but usually dome-shaped rather than conical. The danglies varied from small ear and back of neck flaps, often fashioned from textile, through to wrap-around versions, often leather or bone, giving good face protection, as seen on later Qing helmets.  into more recent times.

Image with thanks to ; historic blog: