Tuesday, March 1, 2011

XVI century pilgrims going to Jerusalem - German woodcut I

yesterday I presented this whole woodcut and today, as promissed, some more thoughts on the lance-armed riders of this German woodcut.

From what we can see they are armed with long lances – perhaps 2,5-3,5 meters long, in tradition of Syria, Palestine and Egypt made out of bamboo, adorned with some horse hair or cotton at the lance point.
We do not see if they carry swords (mode of sword arrangement and kind of sword -straight or curved, could have told us more about these riders) , and they do not carry bows and quivers set, in a Bedouin fashion.
The carry round shields, either slung from the shoulder or in hand, similar shields appear in drawings by Carpaccio. They were most likely wicker-silk construction, a metal Iranian Safavid make or perhaps a metal heirlooms of the not-so-distant Mamluk era.

They seem to have two styles of ridding, the closer rider rides with long stirrups and the second with a short stirrups . The both use very long shanked curb-bits (perhaps after the German fashionable imports) on their steeds and single set of reins, but I drew my sketch with a martingale or perhaps a third rein known as a jaquima (hackamore) after a Mamluk horseman in Reception of Venetian ambassadors in Damascus (school of Bellini, 1489-96). Sipahi horses have no tug or horse tail hanging from the bridle, similar to the Mamluk horsemen drawn by Carpaccio.
Both horses are caparisoned and their shabraque is fringed on one side. We see no saddles, but they were most likely the high pommel and cantle saddles of the Mamluk-Turkish make.
Their horses appear to be some sort of Arabian or South-eastern Asian horse (eg in XIV-XVI centuries the Mamluks imported their best horses from India), rather small but spirited demonstrated by the second horse prancing. They are well 'dressed' (via French Dresseur) and proud mounts, ridden with light hand, probably neck-reined. We do not know whether these are stallions/ geldings or mares, but contemporary Turks rode stallions and geldings , while Arab Bedouins rode also mares.

The riders are dressed in more fluid Arab style of clothing – long robe with wide sleeves or galabiyeh/djelaba, loose kameez? shirt underneath, pants, sleepers for footwear, and turbans, perhaps covering their helmets.
Until the next time, my friends..
I used several publications by dr David Nicolle to write this little entry, my 'best friend' when comes to Medieval and Early Modern Islamic warrior dress and appearance

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