Subject: khassaki knight
Setting: Burji sultanate, Egypt/Mediterranean 1382-1517
Evolution: 1186 Polovtsi khan > 1291 Bahri Mamluk khassaki > 1426 Burji Mamluk khassaki
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Nicolle/McBride 1993 p16
"The khassakiyah formed an élite within the Sultan's own mamluks, serving as his ceremonial bodyguard as junior secretaries and being selected for political duties. Only they were permitted to carry swords at all times and to wear dedicatory tiraz bands on their sleeves."
* Robinson 1967 p80
"At the beginning of the fifteenth century brigandines were used by the Mamlūks and called karkal. They are clearly defined by Kalkashandī as being made of iron lamellae covered with red or yellow dībābj (brocade). Rich coats worn over the armour are shown frequently in Persian miniatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but studded coats in the manner of brigandines are not in evidence until early in the latter century, coinciding with their use by the Mamlūks. We may then consider, with some reason, the possibility that the karkal of the Mamlūks and Persians was derived from the European brigandine. "In the course of the fifteenth century, under the Circassian Mamlūks, the peaked helmet with sliding nasal, large cheekpieces, and small plate neckguard began to replace other kinds. In the writer's opinion, this helmet was evolved from Mongol forms and was developed mainly by the Turks, from whom the Arabs, Hungarians, Poles, and Russians copied it."
* Nicolle/McBride 1993 p10
"True mail-and-plate armour probably did not reach the Mamluk area until the 15th century, where it may have been known as libas al hadid al munaddad, 'a garment of of layed iron.' Turbans had long been used as a form of head protection, but the more heavily armoured mamluks wore iron helmets with mail aventails. The sliding nasal bar, so characteristic of later Muslim helmets, now appeared, and was used by horse archers; when raised such nasals were less likely to snag the archer's bowstring."
* Nicolle/McBride 1993 p9
"The sword, perhaps surprisingly, seems to have been a secondary weapon for horsemen, who relied more on bows and spears."
* Metropolitan Museum of Art 1987 p61
"Standards like this one are called 'alam and were used to identify units of the army in battle and in ceremonial reviews of the troops by the sultan. Many examples from the Mamluk period (1250-1517) have survived, mostly in Istanbul where they were taken as booty after the Ottoman conquest in 1517. These standards are generally inscribed with verses from the Koran and with the names, titles, and often the heraldic blazon of the amir or sultan to whom they belonged. Many also include makers' signatures and specify the region in which the particular amir governed. This means of identification is important because the objects were probably made locally and can therefore be used to isolate local schools of metalwork."