eastern Iran, perhaps Nishapur
9th or 10th century AD
37 pieces, all originally gilt, 34 of sheet silver with repoussé decoration and chasing, 3 of cast bronze
5.4 x 5.2cm (buckle); 7.3 x 3.3cm (long plaque)
Belts were a virtually essential element of military uniform, serving to carry swords and daggers and a variety of military equipment. In many feudal and military societies, moreover, they functioned as a sign of rank and accordingly were of precious metal and sometimes even jewelled and were conspicuous in being buried with the wearer among his most highly-prized possessions.
Though it is not entirely certain that all the pieces were actually belt fittings, they clearly fulfilled a variety of functions. The buckle, the rectangular plaques and the suspension element were for the attachment of a sword or sabre, or both. The M-shaped elements and the spacers would have been from the belt proper; and some would have been used to decorate pendant straps.
D. Alexander, The Arts of War. Arms and Armour of the 7th to 19th Centuries, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XXI, London 1992, cat.2, pp.28–30.
J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.213, pp.182–3.