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Indo Persian shield, a SIPAR

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Picked this up at an estate sale without having a clue as to what it is. My best guess was a Japanese bowl or tray - or maybe Chinese. But why would a bowl have a fabric lining?


It took me a few hours of intense searching to learn that it is a shield sometimes called an ISLAMIC INDO PERSIAN DHAL SHIELD, a  "SIPAR."


The backside of the shield has a fragile fabric covering and four iron rings to attach cords used to hold the shield.  The fabric is padded in the center in order to protect your knuckles from getting busted. I believe the fabric is silk:  I looked at a lot of these shields online and it seems rare to have this much fabric. 


The shield is 14 inches in diameter and decorated with koftgari, described as, "ornamental work produced by inlaying steel with gold; a variety of damascening."












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How cool,estate sales always leave me light in my pocket.The iron hand forged and decorations make it very intriguing.You have it in hand and I do not,to me the fabric looks to be flax.Silk even old silk should have a sheen.Also silk tends to tear linearly ,the 2 tears I see are not linear tears.Just spitballing on the fabric I am not saying your wrong.

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3 hours ago, Jack the Collector said:

fabric looks to be flax.


That sounds better: it didn't quite look like silk, but the few references to the cloth that I've found call it silk.


When I saw this it looked quite interesting but had no price on it (California estate sales are usually tag sales, not auctions). I asked the estate sale lady "What is it and what's the price?"  She replied, "I don't know." I said, "How about ten bucks?" and she was good with that. 


Once I figured out it was a shield and not a bowl, I found a lot of images of these online and no two look alike and 99% of them have little or no fabric. Knowing how textiles can deteriorate over the decades I assume this is maybe 1800's vintage. Here's one with a lot of fabric from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They call it 18th or 19th century.




So this is what a Persian dogface grunt looked like with one of these -  notice this one (and the one in the Met collection) has a long cord so it can so it can be draped over the neck for easy carry when not in combat:


Screen Shot 2020-08-05 at 10.44.32 AM.png


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