Title: Circular Shield (Dhāl)
Date: 19th century
Dimensions: Circ. 18.5 in.
Museum number: 1062
Physical location: Section 2 (Central Hall): Implements of War
This black leather shield is made of dried and lacquered buffalo or rhinoceros hide. The backside of the shield is lined with red velvet and a brocade pad with handgrips sewn on it. These handgrips are held in place with the four steel bosses on the facing that also serve to reinforce the shield’s central area with metal to deflect blows. The projecting circular center of each boss has a perforated border placed around it within a thin outer ring. Above these four bosses is a crescent-like shape with a design similar to the ones encircling the bosses. The two holes atop the crescent must have held a star each as is evident from a shield of similar design on the Aljantiques website (link given below).
Maharaja Ranjit Singh is shown carrying a similar round shield at his back with four bosses and a crescent in several equestrian portraits. One such example is a sepia print of a miniature painting in the Princess Bamba Collection showing the Maharaja on horseback accompanied by his ćhattar or umbrella-bearer and three lance-bearers in the immediate foreground.