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Quilted cotton horse armour
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In the armies of the great African empires south of the Sahara, such as Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Hausa and Kanem-Bornu, horses were equipped with heavy quilted cotton garments. In full battle armour the horse would also have worn chainmail or pieces of leather across the flanks. A chamfron (headpiece) of metal and cloth completed the outfit. These colourful horses did not always go into battle, but sometimes acted as bodyguards for the commander 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 on shortly after the Battle of Omdurman (2 September 1898), which marked the end of the Mahdist state in Sudan. This state was founded in 1885 by Muhammed Ahmad, the Mahdi, and was fully established by his successor, the Khalifa, whose forces were defeated by the British under General Kitchener at Omdurman.

Quilted cotton horse armour

From Sudan, Africa, XIX century AD.
L. 170 cm.
W. 84 cm.
Gift of Major Maxse.

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