Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Elear form Abraham van Booth journal 1627 AD

I have been curious about the winged horsearcher sketched, amongst the whole array of our Polish army soldiers, by a Dutch artist Abraham van Booth  circa 1627, and then engraved and published in the Iournael, van de legatie, gedaen in de iaren 1627 en 1628.

He perhaps is an elear that 'worked' before a winged hussar banner/company, sort of 'clearing' the way.
In Polish military history there were cavalrymen called 'elear'/elier/eliar [Polish, singular] and a dictionary of Polish Language (1807 edition)  by Samuel Linde, in volume I on page 617, there is the following explanation of what an 'elear' meant:
''Elear - 'elier,' 'halier,' 'harcownik' (skirmisher), soldier who proceed an army before the battle, soldier sent   forward to give the enemy a quarrel [fight]. From Latin - eligere."
Then he quoted - " Eliers or haliers the best cavalry[men] were called, chosen from the entire army; who to cause the sensation of fear [amongst the enemy] while as a sign of better understanding [between themselves] with red ''binda'' or ''nałęcza'' (scarf)  their chests diagonally girdled."

 Another scholar Marian Czapski, working in the second half of XIX century,  in his work titled ''Historya Konia'' (The History of Horse) talks about the elears in volume II, drawing the name from a Hungarian word 'elore' that was to meant 'forward' thus perhaps this was a type of a skirmisher?

During the Rokosz Zebrzydowskiego  (in 1607) at the battle of Guzów the bravest soldiers were called elears and grouped together so when they charged the royal lines and penetrated them deeply, and one famous horseman amongst thus grouped elears of Janusz Radziwiłł (anti-royal camp) named  Hołownia went as far as the royal tent shouting ''Where is the  Swede" (the King was of Swedish origin) and there he paid the highest price for his daring and 'laesa maiestas'  by being killed.

Amongst the modern scholars,  Richard Brzeziński, in his groundbreaking work ('Polish Winged Hussar 1576-1775') in addition to discussing the elears in winged hussars' companies, provides two images from van Booth's 'Journael van de Legatie' (Amsterdam 1632) -  an engraved drawing and a black-white watercolour (one day I will turn to it in order to do some drawings etc).

Eliari dicti praestantiores equites ex toto exercitu selecti, ad audactorem impressionem faciendam, pro tenerra humeros rubris fasciis praecincti.
(Paweł Piasecki, Kronika, describing the Polish elears at battle of Bucov  on the River of Teleaeyn  in 1600).
Imci pan Samuel Linde w swoim słowniku 'Języka Polskiego' napisał był 200 lat temu -
''Elear - elier, halier, harcownik, poprzedzający woysko przed bitwą; żołnierz przodem wysłany, do dania zaczepki nieprzyjacielom. Z łaciny - eligere (Linde, tom I, strona 617) ''
Dalej pan Samuel podaje cytat: ''Elierami czyli halierami nazywano najprzedniejszą jazdę, wybraną z calego wojska, która na wrażenie trwogi, a na znak większego sobie rozrozumienia, czerwonemi bindami, czyli nałęczami, pierś na ukos przepasywała'' (tamże)
Imci pan Marian Czapski w ''Historii konia'' tom II pisze, że nazwa mogła także pochodzić od wegierskiej komendy ''elöre'' czyli 'naprzód' (strona 458).

O elearach, z ikonografią, w husarii pisze imci pan Richard Brzeziński w ''Polish Winged Hussar.''.
the van Booth's drawing engraved with my sketch of an elear worked over with the GIMP

and my another take on this elear, also manipulated with GIMP

 Now, the shield in the engraving looks a bit like the one carried by the Irish or like the English horsemen in Ireland during the late XVI century campaigns. The watercolour does not have this roundish shield, nor does the second elear sketched and engraved in the published journal.

more images from the same publication:

elears before the winged hussar comapany

a single elear

Healthy  New Year 2015

Polish winged hussar - toy - a closer look

Old Year 2014 is so close to pass the baton to the brand New Year 2015, so aptly we will take a closer look at the toy soldier (for kids and toy collectors) that I introduced in October, sculpted by my friend Grzegorz 'ducz' Kupiec and produced by Tissotoys from Poland.
A week ago I finally received a physical figurine into my happy hands and thus I can show you some photos of it, if you like to take a closer look.

It comes in a box, with a illustration of a old Polish castle in the background, the reverse of the box has plenty of info in 4 languages - there may be some confusion with the name as the makers decided to call this toy soldiers a Polish hussar, when in all languages this horse soldiers was and still is called winged hussar, and a hussar usually means a Hungarian cavalryman.

Now, the horse and rider were attached to the box with small plastic covered wires, so no injury to your little fingires when upacking :), and

you have to put the lance together, as it comes in 2 pieces , the shorter piece has to be put through the hole in the lancer's right hand.

lance- armed hussar before mounting


various angles

The horse stands firmly and does not wobble,  while the rider can play tilt with some other mounted lancers, my son has some Papo, Schleich etc knights & Saracen figurines, armed with lances so they do some lance-play in our children hands.
I hope the make more mounted toys:  more winged hussars, the Tatars, Polish pancerny, Muscovite riders and Swedish and German reitars.
enjoy :)
Happy New Year 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Comanches - equestrian warlike feats - by James Hobbs

let us gallop over to the Great Plains of North America, and the XIX century writings of various military men, trappers, mountainmen and just travellers.

In this instance I would like to bring to your attention Captain James Hobbs of California(portrait taken from his opus magnum) who wrote the grand recollections of the Far West adventures aptly titled ''Wild Life in the Far West: Personal Adventures of a Border Mountain Man'' (1873).

Dear author, on pages 458-9, describes the Comanche mode of mounted fighting (not unlike Mr Catlin quoted already on this blog 12), he mentions a separate mount for war (war pony)or chase(hunting of buffalo/bison) also known famously as a buffalo runner :

There is one warlike feat in which all the Comanche warriors are trained from their infancy. As the man is dashing along with his horse at full speed, he will suddenly drop over the side of his horse, leaving no part of his person visible, except the sole of one foot, which is fastened over the horse’s back, as a purchase 'by' which he can pull himself to an upright position. 
In this attitude he can ride for any distance, and, moreover, can use with deadly effect either his bow or fourteen-foot lance. 

One of their favorite modes of attack is to gallop towards the enemy at full speed, and then, just before they come within range, they drop upon the opposite side of their horses, dash past the foe, and' pour upon him a shower of arrows directed under their horses’ necks, and sometimes even thrown under their bellies. All the time it is nearly useless for the enemy to return the shots, as the whole body of the Comanche is hidden behind the horse, and there is nothing to aim at save the foot just projecting over the animal’s back. 
Sometimes the Comanches try to steal upon their enemies by leaving their lances behind them, slinging themselves along the sides of their steeds, and approaching carelessly, as though they were nothing but a troop of wild horses without riders. A quick eye is needed to detect this ruse, which is generally betrayed by the fact that the horses always keep the same side towards the spectator, which would very seldom be the case were they wild and unrestrained in their movements.

Every Comanche has one favorite horse, which he never mounts, except for war or the chase, using an inferior animal upon ordinary occasions. Swiftness is the chief quality for which the charger is selected, and for no price would the owner part with his favorite steed. Like all uncivilized people, he treats his horse with a strange mixture of cruelty and kindness. While engaged in the chase, for example, he spurs and whips the animal most ruthlessly; but as soon as he returns, he carefully hands over his valued animal to his women, who are waiting to receive it, and who treats it as if it were a cherished member of the family.

the images enclosed are some of the rather fanciful engravings from the very book, some taken after George Catlin's paintings
*original spelling

Monday, December 29, 2014

Oporów Castle

last September I went to Poland and amongst several other sites and places (mostly Gothic and Baroque churches) I visited the grounds of the Oporów Castle -  unfortunately for me  this Medieval castle was closed for renovation (the museum should reopen in 2015, God willing).
There is a nice gallery at Wikimedia Commons - site, and I did take some pictures myself.

The brick castle was built by the second son of the voivode of Kujawy - chancellor of the Crown of Kingdom of Poland, and rather strong-headed archbishop of Poland  Władysław Oporowski, Sulima coat of arms, on the site of his ancestral stronghold (Oporów in the Dictionary of Kingdom of Poland, vol 7 p 564-5). The castle is quite lovely and unusual for our Central Poland lowlands, for  our monuments and architecture mostly having been destroyed by our kindly closer and more distant neighbours during our most friendly interchange, especially 1655-1720, 1772-1919, and 1939-45, plus not in a small part by our Communist overlords 1945-89.

enjoy the photos and do visit Oporów when in Poland -
most people seem to limit their  visit to the former German concentration camp industrial and genocide complex at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

last month I read one very interesting novel by David Kirk titled 'Child of Vengeance' - a fiction story dealing with the early teens of one of my most favourite Japanese history personage  Miyamoto Musashi - in the novel he is Bennosuke, son of samurai Shinmen Munisai, and who in this narrative has one hell of a coming-of-age story. I greatly enjoyed this novel, and hope for a second instalment...mind you I also have read this great Japanese novel (eng. translation) -  'Musashi' by Eiji Yoshikawa - and with my son we collect the Vagabond manga (comics) series by Takehiko Inoue.

A drawing by Musashi

Sketches & Concept Art

for the past month and a half I had been involved (thanks to Jan's suggestion to David Dunham) in a concept art drawing for a game titled Six Ages  - a sequel  to the famous  King of the Dragon Pass. ( site)
 I hope to do some more artwork for David et company, it was lots of fun and some hard thinking -  :) .
I finally got to draw some travois, chariots, and hence on my blog I will try to tackle some Yamnaya, Andronovo and later "Saka' chariots, wagons, horse people etc. But this will be in the future..

I had some Roman saddles on my mind and here are several pen and ink sketches of some Roman-like horse-riders.

The Old Year's coming to close,  for me it means that there are some more sketches to do before it  will have ended, 2 more days.

Monday, December 15, 2014

War bridle - Robert Jennings

long time  I wrote about the Comanche war bridle, I recently found some description of its usage and application in a book titled ''Horse-training Made Easy: Being a New and Practical System'' Robert Jennings (published in 1866 by Potter and Company in Philadelphia, USA).

the whole book is available via


Friday, December 12, 2014

Horses the Polonians ''adorne with rich Furres and skinnes'

back in the saddle again, so to speak, and let me start with a little excerpt from Fynes Moryson, that is from his rather merry recounting of his travels across Europe and Turkey, in this framgnet he is telling us his observations about Polish Kingdom and the inhabitants, i.e., Polonians -
Shakespeare’s Europe. Unpublished chapters of Fynes Moryson’s Itinerary Being a Survey of the Condition of Europe at the end of the 16th Century. edited by Charles Hughes, London 1903. p 83.  

The Polonians are a warlike nation, valiant, and actiue, but 
all their strength consists in their horse, whereof they haue so 
great number, as some affirme they can bring a hundred thou- 
sand horse into the feild, and one Prouince of Lituania, can 
bring 70 thousand, and king Stephen in the last age had 40. 
thousandmin his Army. Of these horsmen, some are called 
Hussari,mwho are armed with long speares, a sheild, a Carbine 
or short gunn, and two short swords, one by the horsmans syde, 
the other fastned vnder the left syde of his sadle. The light 
horsmen called Cosachi are armed with short swords, Jauelin, 
bowes and arrowes, and a Coat of maile and the whole Country 
of Poland being playne, this great body of horsmen must needs 
be a powerfull strength to the kingdome. The horses are of 
small stature, but of no lesse agility, then those of the Turkes 
and singuler in boldnes for any seruice of warr. Yet are they 
all made Gueldens; And the gentlemen are not prouder of any 
thing, then of their horses and horsmanshipp professing to 
weare long garments, as Commodious for horsmen, that they 
may cast their vpper garment vppon their horses when they 
are heated with running. And for this Cause many haue their 
bridles (Which are alwayes snafles by Which the horses are 
easily turned) sett with studds of gold or siluer, sometymes 
having gold Chaynes, and like ornaments at the cares of their 
horses, and Commonly paynting the mayne and taile yea the 
whole body, excepting the back of their horses with light 
Coulors, as Carnation and the like, therein seeming ridiculous, 
that whereas art imitates nature, these Coulors are such as are 
most vnnaturall for horses. They haue guilded stirropps as 
also spurrs which are some handfull long at the heele. Not 
only soldiers but Ambassadors and their gentlemen, haue the 
hinder part of their horse couered with the wings of an Eagle, 
or skinn of a Tyger, or leopard or some like ornament, either 
for beauty, or to seeme more terrible, as in generall all haue 
them couered, some lesse, some more richly. The Polonian 
horsmen restraine the incursions of the feirce Tartars, and 
seeme so bold to the Turkes, as they haue no hart to invade 
Neither can the Moscouites indure their assault, how- 
soeuer for feare of their Tyrant, they must be prodigall of their 
bloud. The Polonians haue no care to fortify Cittyes professing 
nothing more to be disgracefull then to fly from their enemyes, 
and vaunting to defend their Country with their owne brests, 
not with walled Townes which they lesse desyre to fortify lest 
their kings should vsurpe power ouer them by giving the 
keepingnof such places to their deuoted seruants.
 Fynes Moryson, An Itinerary Containing His Ten Yeeres Travell
through the Twelve Dominions of Germany, Bohmerland, Sweitzerland,
Netherland, Denmarke, Poland, Italy, Turky, France, England, Scotland
& Ireland. edited by Charles Hugher. Glasgow 1908.  v.4, p. 68.

       Poland aboundeth with beasts, aswell wild as tame, and yeeldeth excellent horses, not great, but quicke and stirring. Neither doe the Gentlemen more delight in any thing, then in their horses, so as they hang gold chaines and Jewels at their eares, and paint them halfe over with exquisite colours, but in that uncomely, that they are not naturall for horses, as the Carnatian colour, and their hinder parts they adorne with rich Furres  and skinnes of Lions and Leopards and the like, aswell to terrifie their enemies, as to adorne and beautifie their horses.        

 original spelling as in the Moryson's writings