Observations – KL Visit – Islamic Art Museum Part 12

This is probably the last posting under this series of articles regarding my visit to Kuala Lumpur in 2011, perhaps I will add a conclusion posting after this. But to be exact, this will be the last I will write about the galleries because frankly we have reached the last gallery of the museum!

After visiting the Textile Gallery, we reached a rather interesting gallery – The Arms and Armour Gallery. As the name implies, this rather small niche gallery features a number of weapons and armour, mostly came from the 17th to the 19th Century. The armours exhibited here mainly helmets, breastplates, mails and  hauberks, and the weapons displayed are swords, daggers, knives, spears, axes, cudgels, maces and guns and rifles. There were also flag finials and toppers for the military standards.

As like other artifacts on display, these weapons and armours are very heavily decorated, unlike their western counterparts which are mostly plain or with little decoration. etchings and carvings are a common feature across the exhibits – detailed carving and inscriptions decorate each and every item, stones and gems shone on the hilts and scabbards, mixtures of metals and alloy that make blades and the barrels glisten under the museum lights, gold and silver mingle together in a harmony of colours.

To be honest, even after visiting this gallery I still wonder why people, not only in the Islamic cultures but other cultures throughout the world and across the centuries, have to decorate these weapons and armours…was it to hide the grim fact that they are used to kill? Was it to induce awe to the enemies who saw these intricately decorated pieces of armour? Visiting this place never gave me any kind of explanation, though I can only admire the work and skills put into these artifacts.

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A fearsome looking mace head, with intricate carvings on each blade

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One of the flagpost finials on display. This one feature religious inscription, surrounded by detailed arabesque border. Excuse my reflection!

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Rifles, handguns and storage bags to put the bullets in. This is obviously made during the mid 17th century, 18th century onwards, where the technology on gun making were introduced by the Western World into the Islamic Empire (and the rest of the world)

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A helmet with typical Islamic decoration. Next to it is a typical Arabic long sword with a decorated hilt and scabbard. There were shields there as well, but I couldn’t take a good picture of it

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