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? Indian; Punjab

Shield nineteenth century

Rhinoceros hide, gold, diamonds, emeralds and pearls | 11.5 x 55.7 cm (whole object) | RCIN 11411

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This shield is decorated with enamelled and diamond bosses in the form of curled up cheetahs. Originally the surface was lacquered to create a smooth finish. In many parts of India animal hide was used to make shields as it is light to wear and handle but also strong and durable enough to withstand blows from bladed weapons and, reputedly, bullets.