Guru Era


Hindu battle scene, ca. 1680

The usage of armour and helmets in South Asia date back thousands of years. The description of an epic battle from Hindu mythology which references helmets can be found in the Dasam Granth:

Both the armies clashed and the kettledrums sounded.
The chiefs and the warriors swarmed round to fight the war.
The swords and the spears were raised to kill.
They put on steel helmets on their heads, steel fence (chain mail) on their faces, steel saddles on their horses and coats of arms on their bodies.
The queen Durga, holding the spear, killed several demons.
They who were riding the chariots, the elephants and the horses, were killed and thrown on the ground.
They looked as if the confectioner has cooked fried lumps of mashed pulse by piercing them with a skewer.(52) (Chandi Di Var, pg 324)

By the time of the 16th to 17th century during the lifetime of the great Sikh scholar and scribe, Bhai Gurdas (1551-1636 A.D.) a armour industry had already been established in the Punjab, as Bhai Gurdas makes reference to it in his poetry:


Guru Gobind Singh's armour

Many a man prepares arms and sell them out and many cleanse armours.
In the battle the arms inflict wounds and armours protect as the warriors of both the armies clash time and again.
Those uncovered are wounded but those who have worn the armour remain well and intact. (Bhai Gurdas, Var 31)

Although we have historical Sikh body armour attributed to Guru Gobind Singh composed of char-aina (literally ‘four mirrors’), four plates to protect the chest, back and sides of the wearer in the Patiala Royal Family Collection, we do not have any helmets attributed to the Sikhs from that era or any evidence of their use during that time period..