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An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2
by Ian Heath

[Based on ‘Court of the Horses’ at Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India]


This figure is based principally on sculptures in the 15th century ‘Court of the Horses’ at Sri Rangam, though his cap, described by Barbosa as silk or brocade, comes from an illustrated 16th century ms. He wears quilted body-armour that Domingos Paes’ account of c.1520-22 described as ‘made of layers of very strong raw leather, and furnished with other iron [plates] that make them strong; some have these plates gilded both inside and out, and some are made of silver.’ The fact that no plates are visible here would tend to suggest that they were inside the corselet, which was therefore somewhat akin to a quilted jack. The word Paes actually uses for the corselet is laudeis, probably derived from Kanarese lodu, meaning a stuffed cloth or cushion. Fernăo Nuniz similarly describes their armour as doublets quilted with cotton . Both he and Paes go on to describe the headgear of Vijayanagar cavalry as ‘after the manner of the doublets’, ie, padded, Paes adding that they had pieces to protect the neck and face (a hood, perhaps?) plus a gorget ‘of silk with plates of gold and silver, others of steel as bright as a mirror.’ Despite these references to armour, however, it is significant that Hindu sculpture frequently portrays completely unarmoured cavalrymen, sometimes even bare-chested and wearing only trousers and a cap.

Cavalry weapons comprised lance, javelins, sword, and sometimes a small axe at the waist (38a), in addition to which a proportion at least, used in a scouting capacity, were armed with a composite bow, an Asiatic-style quiver then being attached to the saddle (see figure 160). Popular clothing colours amongst Hindu nobles included red, scarlet, pink, rose, saffron and blue.

Next: 39. MOSLEM INDIAN CAVALRYMAN c.1400 in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath

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