Friday, October 21, 2011

Cirit - ancient Turkish game

I 'facebook'a bit and via Facebook I met a Polish competitor and reenactor, Bartosz Ligocki, who participated in this event Al Faris in Jordan. Bartosz send me a link to a blog by another of his horsearchery club mates, Mateusz. Mateusz, accomplished horseman and horsearcher, is working in Turkey training stunt-men for a future historical, Ottoman Turkey, film productions. 

In one of his posts, Mateusz writes about the Ottoman and present Turkey equestrian sport known as ''cirit'' and that prior to going to Turkey they, the Horse Archery Club, reconstructed the Ottoman 'cirit' javelins based on the examples found in Polish museum collections, and upon their trials concluded that these slender weapons had been only for parade and not for battle. However, upon seeing the Turkish stable boys performing cirit competitions, Mateusz now thinks that this was quite formidable weapon, capable of piercing 2mm steel plate from a distance of 15 meter, while from a distance of 30 meters Turkish horsemen were able to hit a ball of paper without a problem (Mateusz concludes that the effective  range  was 60 meters). Nota bene Matuesz writes that present day Turks ride stallions, some mix of Arabian or almost purebred Arabian horses,  when playing cirit.

A XIX century description of a cirit game (using English term djerid) played observed being played by the Pasha of Jerusalem and his staff by English officer Lt. W. F. Lynch : "A single horseman would leave his ranks, cross the intervening space, and ride leisurely along in front of the opposite line, when, selecting his opponent, he quickly threw his djerid, or short, blunted, wooden spear, directly at him. The latter, generally dodging the weapon, immediately started in hot pursuit of his antagonist, who, now unarmed, spurred his horse towards his friends, and, to avoid the threatened blow, threw himself nearly from the stead, hanging by one leg .... If the assailed were struck with the first cast, one of his party pursued the assailant; and if successful in striking him, it became his turn to flee from an adversary."

Here you have a photo by Keon-Sik Heo ( World Martial Arts Union - Seoul, Korea - Yong In University) of Bartosz performing feats of horsearchery at Al Faris.

At the head of this post I attached a work in progress of an Ottoman XVI perhaps early XVII century cavalryman with a 'cirit' javelin (GIMP and MyPaint only )
Images of cirit players and horses from present Turkey via google images
Anatolian Horsemanship Committee page has some info, including a page on Anatolian horse sports and an article and diagram of Turkish horse tack etc..
 enjoy - :)


VavĨa said...

Thank You Dario for interesting post. This is very valuable info, because most people believe, that cavalry in antiquity (B.C.) were mainly skirmish cavalry and only few people are interested in effects of javelins from horseback. This can be used as parallel. I think Christian Cameron tested against hoplite panoply and said, that 30 m is effective kill range of horsemen with javelin against footman. In this book Worley says effective range for javelin from horseback is 30-60m. I have to test it myself:)By the way, what's the source for that scabbard for sabre and two javelins? Brilliant idea how to solve practically holding of weapons. I have another idea for historical fiction or serious work about military history and for reenactment!

Dario T. W. said...

Pavel - u la, la - you are reading my old posts - thank you !
Chris Cameron has done lots of fantastic work in his reenactment and his novels, especially the Tyrant & Killer of Men series.
The set - palash and javelins - comes from the Russian Grand Duke of Muscovy collection