Friday, September 30, 2011

Al Faris - horse archery video tournament from Jordan

 I just found this great video from 2011 horse archery tournament in Jordan.
 I applaud wholeheartedly this type of competition were men, women and horses compete in this traditional art of archery from horseback, the art I also try to practice, albeit on foot still (with my Korean Samick 55 pounds bow and carbon and wooden arrows).
al faris
 Note that the competitors ride Arabian horses, fast, agile and beuatiful like a dream

Ramon Miranda gave a us a glimpse of the new GIMP 2.8 on his website - it is looking great -  GIMP 2.8 preview

 and the attached image of a Polish horse archer of XVI century comes from a book, Radosław Sikora, Lubieszów 17 IV 1577, Zabrze: Wydawnictwo Inforteditions, 2005,  I illustrated on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth civil war fought at the beginning of the Stefan Batory's reign, describing  the king's forces smashing victory at Lubieszów (today's Lubiszewo Tczewskie)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Polish-Lithuanian horseman circa 1634 part I

 Michal Kadrinazi gave us, in his commentary to my first post on the subject, this link to Mateusz Stawowy's Gallery where much better quality images of this horseman from Kielce Bishop Zadzik Palace can be found: 

Now, as I am looking at him it seems to me that he is wearing a short version of Hungarian ''mente'' (mentyk) with yellow elbow-length sleeves and high collar and żupan underneath it


And this gentleman, perhaps a rotameister of this Polish infantry from the same painting, seems to be wearing a similar outfit (different colors) to our horseman  plus a rich ferezja overcoat (from Turkish ferezheh)

Again, thanks to Michal-Kadrinazi and Mateusz for the pictures

Polish-Lithuanian horseman circa 1634

the palace- museum in Kielce, former residence of Polish bishops built originally for the bishop of Cracow and Crown chancellor Zadzik, has a collection of ceiling paintings, works by the Cracow based Tomaso Dolabella's workshop, depicting bishop Zadzik  activities of the 1630s.

The paintings are incredibly rich in artifacts of martial cutlure of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. One ceiling paintings depicts the king Wladysław IV Vasa triumph over the Muscovite Russia at the Smolensk War 1632-34.

I have some very bad images of two of  these paintings - like many other artworks related to the former glory of Poland - they are not really well know and not included in the art history books related to Poland etc.
Yet I decided to do a little painting of the rider that is shown in the very foreground of the painting depicting King Władysław IV and his colorful army (the brack and white fragment from this painting has been show in Richard Brzezinski's work Polish Winged Hussar).

I attached two different copies of the rider I have on my computer, to the right of my two sketches. As you can see this rider has some unusual attire, multicolored  - not dissimilar in its unusual mix of colors to the outfit worn by prince Janusz Radziwill  and his retinue in the painting by Westervelt (I have sketching that one too) -  is caring what appears to be  a  ''koncerz'' [tuck (estoc)] under his right thigh. Yet his koncerz  or broadsword appears to have a very Western hilt, so perhaps this is a rapier?
He appears to have a single feathered wing attached to the left side of his saddle, perhaps to the cantle?
He is riding very short (with short stirrups) in Tatar fashion, his horse has a very nice example of Polish bridle tack of that period, with a white heron feather? The top of horses back is covered with a very small shabraque, perhaps it is a ''mituk'' - particularly short horse shabraque used between XVI century until the end of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
well, these are my sketches and first attempts at painting him.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Parthian concept sketch MyPaint

Parthians and Saka under ''Erān-Spāhbed'' (suprme commander) Surrena, their Saka commander, defeated the Romans at Carrhae by using their cavalry -   horsearchers - hippotaxotoi- and armoured lancers - κατάφρακτος - cataphracts
Plutarch, Greek historian, on Rustam Surena and his warriors -
''Surena was the tallest and finest looking man himself, but the delicacy of his looks and effeminacy of his dress did not promise so much manhood as he really was master of; for his face was painted, and his hair parted after the fashion of the Medes, whereas the other Parthians made a more terrible appearance, with their shaggy hair gathered in a mass upon their foreheads after the Scythian mode'' 
Again Plutarch on Surena (or as the Iranists want ) Rustam Suren -
''Now by hereditary right he had the privilege of first placing the diadem on the head of him who became king of the Parthians ; and this very Hyrodes[Orodes II], who had been driven out, he restored to the Parthian empire, and took for him Seleukeia the Great, being the first to mount the wall and to put to flight with his own hand those that opposed him.''
  The Parthian/Saka in battle according to Plutarch:
''For Surena had hid his main force behind the first ranks, and ordered them to hide the glittering of their armour with coats and skins. But when they approached and the general gave the signal, immediately all the field rung with a hideous noise and terrible clamour. For the Parthians do not encourage themselves to war with cornets and trumpets, but with a kind of kettle-drum, which they strike all at once in various quarters. With these they make a dead, hollow noise, like the bellowing of beasts, mixed with sounds resembling thunder, having, it would seem, very correctly observed that of all our senses hearing most confounds and disorders us, and that the feelings excited through it most quickly disturb and most entirely overpower the understanding.

When they had sufficiently terrified the Romans with their noise, they threw off the covering of their armour, and shone like lightning in their breastplates and helmets of polished Margianian steel, and with their horses covered with brass and steel trappings. [...]. Their first design was with their lances to beat down and force back the first ranks of the Romans, but when they perceived the depth of their battle, and that the soldiers firmly kept their ground, they made a retreat, and pretending to break their order and disperse, they encompassed the Roman square before they were aware of it. Crassus commanded his light-armed soldiers to charge, but they had not gone far before they were received with such a shower of arrows that they were glad to retire amongst the heavy-armed, with whom this was the first occasion of disorder and terror, when they perceived the strength and force of their darts, which pierced their arms, and passed through every kind of covering, hard and soft alike. The Parthians now placing themselves at distances began to shoot from all sides, not aiming at any particular mark (for, indeed, the order of the Romans was so close, that they could not miss if they would), but simply sent their arrows with great force out of strong bent bows, the strokes from which came with extreme violence. The position of the Romans was a very bad one from the first; for if they kept their ranks, they were wounded, and if they tried to charge, they hurt the enemy none the more, and themselves suffered none the less. For the Parthians threw their darts as they fled [so called Parthian shot], an art in which none but the Scythians excel them, and it is, indeed, a cunning practice, for while they thus fight to make their escape, they avoid the dishonour of a flight. ''
Romans fighting cataphracts according to Plutarch: ''But they merely placed their cuirassiers to face the Romans, and with the rest of their horse rode about scouring the field, and thus stirring up the sand, they raised such a dust that the Romans could neither see nor speak to one another, and being driven in upon one another in one close body, they were thus hit and killed, dying, not by a quick and easy death, but with miserable pains and convulsions; for writhing upon the darts in their bodies, they broke them in their wounds, and when they would by force pluck out the barbed points, they caught the nerves and veins, so that they tore and tortured themselves. Many of them died thus, and those that survived were disabled for any service, and when Publius [son of Crassus]] exhorted them to charge the cuirassiers, they showed him their hands nailed to their shields, and their feet stuck to the ground, so that they could neither fly nor fight. He charged in himself boldly, however, with his horse, and came to close quarters with them, but was very unequal, whether as to the offensive or defensive part; for with his weak and little javelins, he struck against targets that were of tough raw hides and iron, whereas, the lightly-clad bodies of his Gaulish horsemen were exposed to the strong spears of the enemy. For upon these he mostly depended, and with them he wrought wonders; for they would catch hold of the great spears, and close upon the enemy, and so pull them off from their horses, where they could scarce stir by reason of the heaviness of their armour, and many of the Gauls quitting their own horses, would creep under those of the enemy, and stick them in the belly; which, growing unruly with the pain, trampled upon their riders and upon the enemies promiscuously.''
My sketch  purports to show a Parthian Cataphract with a lance, I have not decided yet on the horse armour (by the way I like better the British spelling of word armour/armor), nor I have decided on the horse's bridle and reins etc...
as I installed Linux Mint on my 27" Imac (2010) I wanted to fully explore GIMP and MyPaint and then found this page describing 'extendeing' the software a bit, so many thanks again to David Revoy; and to Ramon Miranda

ps I must share with you some great news: professor Marek Olbrycht was kind enough to offer me some of his works on the Parthians, Mithridates of Pontus and Bosporan kingdom, (here some discussion on the conquest of the kingdom by Mithirdates)including a fine article on the cataphracts based on the excavations and finds in Kazakhstan, so more interesting posts with illustrations should be born out of them, as I really like the period of III-I century B.C. in Anatolia, Black Sea and western Cetnral Asia.

La silla del vaquero -New Spain colonial saddle tree

for many years I have been studying the books and documents related to the Spanish Conquest in North America. Naturally it all has had to do with horses, Indians aka Native Americans, ethnohistory, horsemen and horsemanship. and library internet collections allow now for a rapid access to old documents that might have been not easy accessible without travel and expense, so glory to the US miltiary scientists for developing the Internet :)
Ad rem,
I have been curious what kind of saddle was in use by the Spaniards when they took Old Mexico and when they marched their horses to conquer  Nuevo Mexico and Tejas . Please note that  in due time I should be able to offer some drawings and  writings regarding the first 200 years of Nueva España, drawn from these older documents and iconographic material available through the net depositories and libraries etc.

But these drawings of today, merged in one plate, come from variously reconstructed images done by my most favorite Texas artist and writer,  Jack Jackson. He, unfortunately already with the ancestors, was one prolific illustrator of Texas history and lore, famous outside of Texas for his underground comics,  also working on editing old narratives and illustrating then for academic publication related to the history of Texas, especially the Spanish Texas or Tejas and then Mexican Tejas. He himself  produced a very academic book on the Spanish ranching in Texas that is crucial here - Los Mesteños: Spanish Ranching in Texas, 1721-1821.
In his books, both comics and academic works, one can find artfully and historically correct reconstruction of horse tack, weapons, architecture, and nature. The books ''Secret of San Saba,'' ''Comanche Moon,'' ''The Alamo'' are such treasures of Spanish, early Texan and Native peoples artifacts related to horsemanship, vaquero and soldier garb, and also architecture.
Today I am offering you a glimpse into the Tejas-Nueva Espana saddle tack as described and reconstructed through the research of Mr. Jackson. It suppose to represent the everyday used saddle tree of the vaqueros or cowboys who worked on large ''estancias'' and ''haciendas'' lassoing large and dangerous longhorns and mustangs of Tejas, trying to survive tornadoes, Comanches, and Apaches, creating the equipment, vocabulary and generally paving the way for the so called American cowboy.
I drew this from various publications and compiled together. This saddle tree lack a cover and several other things but in the future I should return to these subjects, especially when I will attempt to show some drawings of the Nueva Espana famous horse soldiers - the presidiales - who from about 1560s until 1820 mounted and armed with lance, sword and escopeta patrolled vast territories of the New Spain.
One interesting observation about this saddle tree can its apparent similarity to the saddles of Central Asia, that were brought to Europe and the North Africa by the nomadic horsemen of Turkish extraction from the steppes (and perhaps China and Korea) some 1,500 years ago. The most telling difference might be the lack of birchbark to line the saddle tree in order to waterproof it. Actually the wooden stirrups were just nothing new, but a window into the past development of the stirrup as the first stirrups used by the Nomads, Chinese, Korean, Arabs etc had been made out of wood...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sketches in the Old Poland tradition

I have been quite busy these last four weeks, amongst other things trying to adjust to new developments around us, so instead of writing a lengthier post I am simply going to share with you some of my sketches-in-progress (of old and new drawings) I have been playing with using updated GIMP. Digital image manipulation allows for working on the same image over and over creating many versions so I am showing here one image that I have  four versions already...

... Porucznik1


... warrior who will eventually hold a long sword a la Skienkiewicz's Podbipieta

... winged hussar theme

.. winged hussars circa 1683

... Dragonensign with the musicians of mid-XVIIc

.. retainer with a horse, long firearm holster arranged in the same fashion as on the hetman Zolkiewski coffin.

well, lots of work to be done yet , so please enjoy the work-in-progress images
on Sept.12 we had another anniversary of the Jan III Sobieski victory over the Ottoman army at Vienna A.D. 1683

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ancient Roman Cavalry Saddle

I usually have been staying away from the Romans, doing very few drawings showing their horses and tack.
here I drew a Roman bit used by the Roman cavalry,
So let me take you for a little visit back in time of the Romans and their rigid saddles, just let the images speak for themselves. Please note that it is my belief that the so called horned Roman saddle, whatever its immediate inventor (Celtic or Eurasian steppe warrior), does seem to be a descendant of the ancient Saka/Skuda/Scythian saddles and horse tack 



.... Mr. Peter Connolly and his reconstruction in my 'redrawing'

Germany - a saddle reconstruction

Weißenburg ( Bavaria ). Roman Museum: Reconstruction of an ancient Roman cavalry saddle - actually this one has a very interesting and very logical saddle skirt/flap.


Another reconstruction with full horse tack from Germany

the best English language site devoted to the reconstruction and practice of the Roman cavalry -