Decorated dhal from India, Asia. Thought to have been collected by Henry Balfour. Given to the Museum by Sir Francis Knowles in 1942.
This is an Indian shield of circular and convex form with four central bosses known as a dhal. It is made of Indian rhinoceros rawhide, which has been dried and lacquered, but not tanned. Rhinoceros hide was good for shield-making because it could take on a striking translucent quality, and was harder and more durable than buffalo leather.
This example has been painted with floral designs in red, black gold and white. It is a fine piece of weaponry and probably came from Sindh province in Pakistan, which was renowned for the quality of its shields in the 18th and 19th centuries. It would have belonged to a wealthy individual, perhaps an aristocrat.