- Museum number
Quilted horse armour (with diamond patchwork design; comprising four pieces sewn together) made of textile (cotton), fibre padding; with wood toggles and rope and cord and yarn ties.
- Production date
Height: 134 centimetres
Width: 84 centimetres
Depth: 170 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Temporary Register,1861-1921, p.90.
In the armies of the great empires in the savannah regions to the south of the Sahara (Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Hausa, Kanem-Bornu and others), horses were equipped with heavy, often brightly coloured, garments of quilted cotton cloth. Several pieces of cloths were sewn together and stuffed with kapok, the wool-like strands that surround the seeds of the silk cotton tree. In full battle armour the war-horse would also have worn chain-mail or pieces of leather across the flanks. A chamfron, or headpiece, of metal and cloth completed the outfit.
However, these colourful horses did not always go into battle. Instead they often acted as the body guards for the Emir in the field. The armour was also worn at grand military parades. Today these fabulous costumes are worn only on ceremonial occasions.
This particular horse armour was probably taken during or shortly after the Battle of Omdurman (2 September 1898), which marked the end of the Mahdist state in Sudan.
C.J. Spring and J. Hudson, North African textiles (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
C.J. Spring, African arms and armour (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 24 May - 30 Sep, London, BM, 'The horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot'
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number