Robert Hales’s passion for antiques, travel and the Orient began with an overland trip to India in 1966. Within a year he had jettisoned his job as a fledgling microbiologist to begin a career specialising in antique Islamic and Oriental arms and armour. For almost thirty years he had a gallery in Kensington Church Street, London, where the atmosphere was decidedly informal. He has supplied many of the world’s leading museums and collections with some of the finest items to surface on the market.
Robert continues to pursue his interests with an undiminished enthusiasm.
This book comprises illustrations and concise descriptions of over a thousand assorted eastern weapons and armour which have passed through the hands of the dealer Robert Hales during the last half-century. The pictures show a varied selection of the best and most interesting examples that the author has chanced to own, and they strongly reflect his passion and personal taste. They originate from Islamic and Hindu cultures and beyond, including Russia, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea and South East Asia. Most of the objects have not been published before, and the illustrations present a brilliant and delightful panoply.
The text is largely descriptive, but also includes a considerable amount of information published here for the first time. The section on Burmese weapons was written by Noel Singer, and his contribution is entirely new to arms history. Many of the objects in this book have an historical as well as an aesthetic narrative, such as the kris presented to Captain Richard Swann in 1638-1640 by the king of Andragera, or the various weapons and armour owned by Tipu Sultan. Due to the historical Anglo-Indian connection, a significant amount of Indian material found its way to Britain and hence into the stock of the author. This explains the preponderance of Indian weapons to be found in the book. Robert Hales has sought out some of the finest Oriental antique arms and armour to have surfaced in a generation, and he has distilled this into four hundred pages with hundreds of illustrations.