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Fallen warrior in left of the Epic Mural, East Wall, Amazon Hall, Piandjikent
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Painting with glue paints on dry loess plaster
c. 740
Penjikent. Sector XXI, room 1, southwest corner
Accession: 1964
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Eastern part: To right of the entrance, with the narrative running from left to right.

Here we see a battle between several riders, although it is not quite clear who is fighting whom, since only the lower half of the figures survive. The horses gallop above the ground, their hooves not touching the earth. Lying beneath their hooves are five figures, one of them a woman whose costume and weaponry is identical to that of the men: only the two long plaits of black hair reveal her sex. From the colour and ornament on the kaftan worn by both rider and fallen ‘Amazon’ it is clear that they are one and the same person, shown during and after battle.

The rider in a black kaftan (probably once red, its colour changed with time) on a yellow horse appears three times in the eastern wall paintings, suggesting that he is their main hero. Twice he is shown moving from left to right, indicating the direction of the narrative.

The horses’ bodies partly overlap, creating an illusion of deep space and giving a sense of the scale of the battle. We barely notice that the artist repeated the same flying gallop pose for the horses at least six times.

Source: “Battle with Amazons (eastern and western parts),” Telling the Sogdian Story: A Freer|Sackler Digital Exhibition Project, accessed December 7, 2020

Referenced as figure 439 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
439. Fresco from Piandjikent Room XXI/1, 7th-8th centuries AD, Transoxanian, Hermitage, Leningrad (Aka S, Yaku).

Back to the left of the Epic Mural, East Wall, Amazon Hall, Sector XXI, Room 1. Sogdian Piandjikent (Penjikent). State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

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