Let Me See Your War Helmet

category: > History Now/Then

written by: Jaap Proost

IN times of war, the Tlingit people wore these kinds of helmets to protect themselves in battle. This wooden helmet is carved in the shape of a sealion’s head and covered with the skin of the animal. It dates from the period 1750 – 1800. The head piece was worn over a comfortable fur cap and was fastened under the chin with strips of skin. Also the warrior wore a wooden collar, reaching to the eyes. This had holes on the rim, for looking through.


War helmets, known as ‘lu wu sada’ in the Tlingit language, have also other animal shapes, for example in the form of wolfs and ravens. Also carvings are known of human faces and mythical beings. The wooden helmets proofed no protection against firearms and therefore fell into disuse at the beginning of the nineteenth century.


I found the images in the collection of the Museum Volkenkunde Leiden.





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