Thursday, August 13, 2009
Skuda - the horsearchers of Eurasia
Skuda, Skula, Skolotai, Saka (Skify, Skithian, Scythians, Skudra, Sogdian, Скифы, Саки, Scytowie, Sakowie ) or the Archers were the very first mounted 'Scourge of God' that had burst in the ancient world of Europe and Asia around beginning of the VII (7th) century BC. Mounted on swift horses ( according to archaeological finds - eg Pazyryk - and Herodotus mostly 130-150cm at withers geldings, armed with bow, arrows, klevetz (war ax or war hammer), spears and javelins, short and long swords they were pursuing another branch of the big Iranian nomad family- the Kimmerians or Cimmerians (yes,author of Conan the barbarian got his name from them) - and having finished with their cousins then they incidentally pillaged Anatolia, Syria, Palestine and Northern Egypt..
Defeated by Medes (who themselves might have been part of these archers and local population) and later Persian (their southern 'cousins') settled north of Caucasus - in the so called Caspian-Pontic steppe until replaced by the new wave of their Iranian cousins - the Sarmatians - at the end of the 1st millennium BC.
These Indo-European nomads of Iron Age created the most amazing art and most original culture, artifacts surviving in numerous kurgans (earthy mounds) throughout the Eurasian steppe, from southern Poland and Romania to China and Korea.
I drew/copied this king or using Iranian term - a shah - after a reconstruction by Russian archaeologist and artist Mikhail V. Gorelik. I used crow quill pen and ink, while colors come from colored pencils. Later I added background using GIMP etc.
This particular warrior with his entire golden martial outfit was found in the Solokha (Солоха) kurgan located on the Dniepr River, near Nikopol in Ukraine.
He has a iron scales cuirass, bashlik (felt or leather cap) and Greek helmet adopted to his Scythian use and taste, golden Scythian belt on which two most important attributes of the Scythian male costume were hung - a Scythian sword in scabbard, and a Scythian gorythos or gorytos - a leather or felt container for both a bow and arrows, where some extra arrow points and sharpening tools could also by carried.
He wears typical nomad pants - designed for riding, and soft leather boots.
He is also wearing shins protectors or greaves (there were of bronze).
He carries a bronze mace or 'buzdygan' - a weapon and a sign of his authority (this symbolic aspect buzdygan of was to survive in the Eurasian steppe military cultures until the XVIII (18th) century AD, eg 'hetman's bulawa' in Poland and Ukraine).
Riding whip or nahaika - they used no spurs - was another aspect of their horse culture.
Finally he carries two shafted weapons - a short spear and a javelin - and iron laminated shield.
This find was dated to the early 4th century BC, and was one of the richest finds ever in Ukraine... Westerners aka Europeans and Americans call the western Saka by the name - Scythians - taken after the Herodotus Histories' name usage (which a Greek term) but our nomads called themselves Skuda. Persians of the Darius the Great times (end of the 6th century BC) used term Saka, and differentiated between their northern cousins by adding different names related to their locations in the steppes and relationship to the Achaemenid Empire- Saka paradraya, Saka tigraxauda, Saka haumavarga, Saka para Sugudam.
I've got to draw a horse for him, with the full Scythian outfit.