Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1211 Mongol alginci

Subjectalginci light cavalry of mangudai 'suicide troop' unit
Culture: Mongol
Setting: Mongol empire 12-13thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* May 2007 p36
"The tamma consisted of a main force, and an advance force known as the alginci (plural algincin).  The algincin, consisting of a vanguard and scouts, were stationed closer to the cities, while the tamma remained in better pasurelands."

* Buell 2003 p104
"ALGINCI. Forward-based components of a tamma, or nomadic garrison force. Their purpose was providing warning in the event of a major attack."

* Nicolle/Hook 1990 p32
"Though Mongol tactics relied upon horse-archery and were fully within the ancient military traditions of the Eurasian steppes, there is no doubt that the Mongols used them to more devastating effect than any of their predecessors since Attila the Hun.
    "The bulk of Mongol tribesmen could fight only as lightly armoured or even unarmoured horse-archers ...."

* Haskew/Jörgensen/McNab/Niderost/Rice 2008 p75-76
"The Mongol horse archer had several functions.  He operated as scout, skirmisher, harasser and finally as mobile artillery.  Each man carried two or three bows for both long- and short-range fire. He was also eqipped with three quivers, each with 30 arrows so that he would not run out of projectiles during battle.  On the march both he and his heavy cavalry colleagues would have two or three horses so that they always had a rested mount available.
​    "[...]  The mounted archer was never supposed to get entangled with the enemy at close quarters but instead keep him pinned down and harassed [sic] by a constant barrages [sic] of arrows."

* Carey/Allfree/Cairns 2006 p117
"If the enemy army was stationary, the Mongol general might command his main force to strike it in the rear, or turn its flank, or engage and then feign a retreat, only to pull the enemy into a pre-planned ambush using an elite light cavalry corps called the mangudai or 'suicide troops' (an honourable title more than a job description).  The function of the mangudai was to charge the enemy position alone, and then break ranks and flee in the hope that the enemy would give chase.  If the enemy pursued, the Mongols would lead them into terrain sustainable for ambush."


* Heath 1978 p104-105
"Mongol costume and equipment is [sic] described fairly thoroughly in contemporary sources.  WIlliam of Rubreck records that in summer the Mongols wore silks, rich brocades and cottons from China and Persia, and Friar John de Plano Carpini probably intends the same materials when he speaks of buckram, 'purple' and baldequin.  Marco Polo also speaks of cloth of gold (brocade) and silk, lined or decorated with sable, ermine, squirrel and fox fur.  One type of Chinese shirt, first recorded in 1219, was of raw silk worn as a type of armour since arrows could not penetrate it, instead being driven into the skin so that by tugging on the shirt the arrowhead could be extracted from the wound cleanly.
​    "In winter fur coats and breeches were worn, usually 2 of the former, the inner coat with the fur on the inside and the outer with it outside.  The outer coat was of wolf, fox, monkey, badger, dog or goat skin depending on the social status of the wearer. Sheepskin and stuffed silk were also worn, plus felt which served as a type of light armour.
    ​"Carpini mentions white, red and blue-purple tunics as well as baldequin.  H. H. Howorth, describing the dress of mid-19th century Mongols, says the usual colours for the outer summer coat (the Kalat) were blue or brown, over a bright blue or grey shirt; trouser colours appear to have been similar.  The flap-opening of the Kalat went from left to right, as opposed to the right-over-left opening of the Turks.  An ornamental belt, round fur or plush-trimmed cap and leather boots with felt soles completed the costume. Howorth adds that at that late date the cap had two 45 cm ribbons hanging down at the back, and these appear to be mentioned in at least one contemporary source of our period."

* Carey/Allfree/Cairns 2006 p116
"The Mongol light trooper usually did not wear hard body armour, though he did often wear a padded gambeson and employ a wicker shield covered in thick leather.  In combat, he replaced his thick woollen cap with a simple hardened leather or iron helmet if available."

* Nicolle/Hook 1990 p34
"Almost all sources agree that the Mongol soldier wore a fur cap with earflaps, a fur-lined or felt coat, thick stockings and soft leather riding boots."


* Carey/Allfree/Cairns 2006 p116
"Mongol light cavalry were required to reconnoitre for the army, act as a screen for their heavier counterparts in battle, and provide missile fire support in attacks, and follow-up pursuit once a battle was won.  These light horsemen were armed in characteristic Asiatic fashion with two composite bows (one for long distance and one for short), two quivers containing at least sixty arrows, two or three javelins and a lasso.
​    "The Mongol composite bow was larger than most of its central Asian cousins, with a hefty pull of up to 165 pounds and an effective range of 350 yards.  Quivers carried arrows for many purposes: light arrows with small, sharp points or use at long ranges, heavier shafts with large, broad heads for use at close quarters, armour-piercing arrows, arrows equipped with whistling heads for signalling and incendiary arrows for setting things on fire.  The Mongol warriors were so adept at mounted archery that they could bend and string the bow in the saddle and then loose the arrow in any direction at full gallop." 

* Irving Arts Center > Genghis Khan: The Exhibit
"The Mongols' most effective weapons were their highly flexible recurved composite bows, which required as long as a year to construct by working wood, animal horn, and sinew.  Mongol soldiers often slept with their prized bows to prevent them from stiffening in the cold.  Pulled back with great strength, the Mongol bow could shoot an arrow 350 yards, twice as far as European bows of the time and 100 yards farther than huge English longbows.
    ​"Mongols were such expert archers that they could launch arrows while facing backward or while hanging behind the sides of their horses for protection.  They released their arrows when all four feet of their mounts were off the ground to keep their aim true.  The Mongol arsenal included armor-piercing arrows, flaming arrows, and whistling arrows, shot overhead to terrify the enemy."

* Gorelik 1995 p33
"The warriors all used their powerful (more than 60 kg of tension force) bows to great effect.  The arrowheads were of different size and shape."

* Lessem p24
"Mongolian cavalrymen carried a variety of arrows for long-range and closeup shooting.  Mongolian bows were recurved and highly flexible, allowing them to launch arrows over 400 yards -- nearly twice as far as the European bows of the time.  Each soldier carried two quivers of 20 or more arrows with heads of many shapes for different targets."


* Marshall 1993 p40
"Light cavalry carried a small sword and two or three javelins ...."

* Nicolle/Hook 1990 p35-36
"Swords were ... not always curved sabers, as is so often thought, though even straight swords would normally be single-edged."

* Heath 1978 p105
"Polo records basic Mongol equipment as bow, mace and sword (other sources describe the latter more accurately as a curved, one-edged sabre)."

* Nicolle/Hook 1990 p35-36
"Swords were ... used reserved [SIC] for the élite. They were not always curved sabres, as is so often thought, though even straight swords would normally be single-edged. A decorated cap and sword belt were worn as insignia of rank or command."

* Withers 2010 p83 = Withers/Capwell 2010 p331
"When the Mongols invaded China in the early 13th century, they brought with them a curved, one-handed and single edged cavalry sabre that had been used by Turkic peoples (from Central Asia) since the 8th century. The curved design of the sabre influenced the shape of the Chinese dao, superseding the straight-bladed jian."

* Lessem 26
"The Mongolian sword was short and a distant second to the bow and arrow in the cavalryman's arsenal."