Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1234 Mongol ba'adur
Subjectba'adur 'hero'
Culture: Mongol
Setting: Great Mongol empire, Asia 13thc

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

* Haskew/Jörgensen/McNab/Niderost/Rice 2008 p96 caption
The Mongols' heavy cavalry were often decisive in routing and destroying a defeated enemy army.  In contrast to the horse archer, the heavy cavalryman was well protected and equipped for close quarter combat.  He could use either ... his curved sword or a steel-tipped mace or lance for fighting the enemy at close quarters, having first unnerved him with a heavy, shock attack.  The lamellar armour was linked by numerous laces, allowing the cavalryman to move easily in his saddle when in close combat."

* May 2007 p147
"Ba'adur -- The braves or warriors who members of the keshik should strive to emulate.  Also to be found rendered as bahadur and baatar."

* Vuksic/Grbasic 1993 p76
"The best warriors were taken into the khan's guard (keshik), which number 2,000 men until 1206, and 10,000 thereafter.  It was divided into the day watch (turghaut), 1,000 strong, the night watch (kabtaut), also of 1,000 men, the sharpshooters (korchin) (1,000) and the khan's personal guards (baatut), numbering 7,000.  The guard remained under arms even in peacetime, and assured the khan's rule.  Even though it was mostly made up of the aristocracy, others could reach high positions in the army according to their merit and regardless of origin."


* Gorelik 1995 p33
"The defensive armour of the Mongols carried on Central Asian traditions, yet in many ways was quite original.  Mongolian corselets, khuyags, were made of iron, steel and sometimes of bronze, often of leather, thick and hard as plywood.  Quite often in a single 'suit' of armour, different systems of armouring were combined."

* Greer p94 (describing a Mongol Heavy Cavalryman)
"Such a multitude of descriptions of Mongol armor prevail that there is no course but to use a composite of the more reasonable types.
​    "An iron scale (perhaps lamellar) shirt seems to be the most viable of alternatives.  Other possibilities are chainmail shirts, ox-hide cuirass, cuir bouilli, leather reinforced with iron plates, and black, lacquered bands of leather.  Quite concievably, all of these types were employed by individual preference, as no other explanation seems valid when so many differing descriptions abound."

* Heath 1978 p106
"MONGOL HEAVY CAVALRYMAN  Contemporaries offer a fair number of descriptions of Mongol armour, albeit generally vague.
​    "Carpini records iron or steel helmets with leather coifs or aventails, mail corselets, and leather body-armour of overlapping strips; he also gives an accurate and detailed description of lamellar armour used for both men and horses.  Marco Polo says they wore a very strong armour 'of leather that has been boiled', i.e. cuir bouilli.  Matthew Paris also records leather armour, of oxhides strengthened with iron plates, adding the improbable but amusing detail that only their chests were protected, their backs being left unarmoured to discourage them from running away!  Thomas of Spalatro describes 'armour of buffalo hides with scales fastened on it' (possibly lamellar) as well as iron or leather helmets.  The Emperor Frederick II records 'untanned hides of oxen, horses and asses' reinforced with plates of iron which were somehow stitched in.  He also mentions that there were many considerably better-equipped from the spoils of their defeated enemies (he actually says 'Christians', therefore Franks).  Into this category fall iron helmets and armour of 'iron plates' of Persian origin and mail hauberks of Alan origin recorded in addition to hardened-leather armour by Rubreck.  Metal armour was polished to a high shine.
​    "Quite clearly leather was the commonest form of body-armour, constructed from 'overlapping pliable strips' according to Carpini.  He records that the hide strips -- about 31/2 inches wide -- were tightly sewn together 3 layers thick, then softened by boiling and shaped to fit.  He adds that the hide was stiffened with bitumen, which would have also served to protect it from humidity.  The whole armour consisted of front, back, arm and leg pieces, the front and back being joined at the shoulder (and sides, one assumes) by iron plates and buckles."

* Lessem p23
"Mongol soldiers used only light armor to retain their maneuverability on horseback.  Beneath, they wore silk shirts as the threads gathered around and penetrating arrows, making them less damaging to remove."

* Marshall 1993 p40
"Over the silk [shirt] he wore a tunic, and if he was part of the heavy cavalry he was given a coat of mail and a cuirass made of leather-covered iron scales."

* Carey/Allfree/Cairns 2006 p116
"Mongol heavy cavalry were better protected [than light troopers], with warriors wearing leather, mail or lamellar cuirass and metal helmet, and their mounts wearing leather barding."

* Nicolle/Hook 1990 p35
"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.  Those who possessed armour might have a hardened leather or iron helmet and a lamellar cuirass, usually of hardened leather pieces laced with rawhide thongs.  Only the élite would own iron lamellar laced with silk thread.  An armoured flap that protected the right arm would, according to some contemporary observers, be unlaced while shooting so as not to encumber the man as he pulled his bowstring."


* Carey/Allfree/Cairns 2006 p116
"The primary weapon of the heavy cavalryman was a 12 foot lance ...."

* Greer p94 (describing a Mongol Heavy Cavalryman)
"The lance, about twelve feet long, had a small hook below the spearblade and was adorned with a tuft of black horse-hair."

* Gorelik 1995 p33
"The Mongols were equipped with spears with a hook on the socket."

* Nicolle/Hook 1990 p36
"... many spears had hooks to unhorse a foe."

* Heath 1978 p105
"Other arms were lasso, dagger, and lance, the latter often with a small hook below the head to pull enemy horsemen from the saddle.  Vincent de Beaufvais, however, says few Mongols carried lances and Carpini seems to confirm this."


* Heath 1978 p105
"Polo records shields in one passage and Carpini says that wicker shields were carried, though he adds that they were not used much because they interfered with the use of the bow and that he only saw them in use in camp at night by guardsmen such as the Keshik.  Meng Hung (a Chinese general contemporary to Genghis Khan) seems to disagree since he lists 4 types of Mongol shield: large, of hide or willow wood (the latter possibly meaning it could be of interwoven osiers),; a small type used by front rank light troops to deflect arrows; large 'tortoise' shields for use in siege-work; and apparently a type of face-visor."

* Greer p94 (describing a Mongol Armored Cavalryman)
"A wicker-backed shield with a tough hide covering is generally accepted as the Mongol shield."

* Marshall 1993 p40
"Each soldier carried a leather-covered wicker shield and a helmet of either leather or iron, depending on his rank."


* Nicolle/Hook 1990 p36
"Small battle-axes and maces were used by some Mongols ...."

* Gorelik 1995 p33
"Sometimes battle-axes and, very often, maces were used."

* Lessem 27
"Mongolian mounted soldiers also carried maces and spears."

* Carey/Allfree/Cairns 2006 p116
"... [C]urved and straight sabres and small battleaxes and maces were ... present among the elite." 


* 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 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."

* Marshall 1993 p40
"... [T]he heavy brigade carried a scimitar, a battle axe or a mace and a 4 m (12 foot) lance."