Object Title

Helmet (chichak)

Helmet (chichak)



Object Number



Acquired from the collection of Dr. Richard Williams, 1974. From the arsenal of Hagia Irene, Istanbul. Formerly in the J Bernhard Smith collection, around 1880, later in the F Brook Hitch collection, sold Sotheby's 12 February 1954 lot 28.

Physical Description

This helmet has a rounded, conical skull and a small pointed peak riveted at the front and slotted for the broad sliding nasal secured above it with a set screw, to the left of which is riveted a plume tube. The cheek-pieces are in three parts cusped in the front edge to assist side vision and pierced with a pattern at the centre for hearing. A small concave neck-guard is suspended at the back by three short chains, one of which is damaged. There are holes above the lower edge of the skull for the original lining rivets. On either side of the skull are copper rivets filling the holes for the visor pivots.


Dimensions: The height of the skull is 180 mm, the overall height is 300 mm and the diameter of the skull is 212 mm. Weight: The weight of the helmet is 1.7 kg.

Inscriptions and Marks

The St. Irene Arsenal mark is stamped on the brow of the skull.


Places Turkey

Bibliographic References

pl. ix.


The skull appears to have been modified from a 14th century European basinet helmet. The shape compares almost exactly with those from Chalcis in which the lower part of the helmet is formed from a separate plate rivetted to the skull proper. The Turks invaded and captured the island of Euboea in 1470 and may well have acquired a considerable quantity of old armour in the process. Dr. David Starley has carried out an examination on the piece and notes that the skull is far less hard than the other pieces, comparable with unhardened steel, work hardened iron or iron containing phosphorus. The cheek pieces, neck guard and peak, by contrast are considerably harder indicating a deliberately hardened steel. See Job Code AM 1783.