Culture: Ak Koyunlu / White Sheep Turkmen, Turco-Iranian
Setting: Ak Koyunlu confederacy, Iran 15thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Nicolle ill. McBride 1990 p34-35
"In the long run the most important and best documented of the Timurids' foes were the Qara and Aq Qoyunlu Turcomans of Azerbayjan and eastern Anatolia. They emerged out of the collapse of Mongol authority in these areas and, after Timur's death, developed into major regional powers. The Qara Qoyunlu were overthrown by their Aq Qoyunlu rivals before they could achieve much, but the Aq Qoyunlu went on to carve out a state that stretched almost from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Gulf. They dominated the rich Mesopotamian trade routes, maintained political relations with Muslim states in India and cultivated an alliance with Venice, as both the Aq Qoyunlu and the Venetians feared the fast growing Ottoman Turkish Empire. The Aq Qoyunlu also recognised their need for modern firearms, since the Ottomans were already famed for their gunnery. An attempt was made to obtain artillery from Venice in 1471, via the small Anatolian emirate of Karaman which feared Ottoman expansion. This seems to have failed; but in 1478 Venetian guns plus 'one hundred artillerymen of experience and capacity' were, according to one record, sent to the Aq Qoyunlu. "The Qara and Aq Qoyunlu states were both based upon Mongol prototypes, as were their armies. Archaic Mongol terms were still in use though the Mongol language had disappeared from western Iran. ... The Aq Qoyunlu could also resort to typical Mongol ruthlessness, leaving dead prisoners along their route to demoralise pursuers. The heterogeneous clans who made up the Aq Qoyunlu Turcoman confederation were known as boy, the army itself being subdivided along clan divisions. Th Aq Qoyunlu army was actually a large and impressive one, with a standing force of 25,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry to which tribal auxiliaries and allies could be added. Its cavalry were particularly effective, according to the visiting Venetian ambassador Caterino Zeno. One Aq Qoyunlu army of 40,000 men was sent to raid Ottoman territory but in case of need up to 100,000 could be gathered beneath the ruler's banner."
* Morgan 1988 p106
"The Aq-Qoyunlu army was perhaps the last in Persia to be constructed on the traditional Mongol, nomadic lines. It was a predominantly cavalry force organized in units arranged decimally. Its size has been variously estimated. Different observers in 878/1473 put the same army at 40,000 and 300,000 respectively. A more reliable estimate is perhaps offered by the evidence of a review held in Fārs in 881/1476. This seems to suggest an army of 25,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry. It has been argued that if the contingents from the provinces are added in, Uzun Ḥasan may have had at his disposal an army of something like 100,000 men."
* Arts of the Muslim knight 2008 p292-293
"... [Turban] helmets were ... worn by the military elite of the Ak-Koyunlu ('horde of white sheep'), a Turkoman confederation whose capital was at Tabriz and who controlled portions of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Azerbaijan and Iran."
* Metropolitan Museum of Art 1987 p85
"The large helmet was designed to be worn over a turban or with considerable padding, and originally it was fixed with an aventail of mail that covered the warrior's entire neck and face so that only his eyes were visible behind this cloak of iron. Perhaps it is for this reason that warriors thus armed are descibed as looking like young lions."
* Metropolitan Museum of Art > Stone Gallery of Arms and Armor
"Turban Helmets [...] Helmets of this type are usually called turban helmets because of their large bulbous shape and the flutings that imitate the folds of a turban. Because certain dervish groups wore turbans wound with a prescribed number of folds to represent an important mystical number, it is likely that turban helmets were regarded not merely as armor but also as a kind of religious insignia, their very shape marking the wearer as a fighter in the Holy War.
"Turban helmets, together with mail-and-plate armor of matching decoration, were intended for the heavy cavalry and are recorded as early as the fourteenth century." ...
* Nicolle ill. McBride 1990 p39
"Venetian accounts describe the Aq Qoyunlu as wearing various sorts of armour; 'Some were covered with strong thick hides [probably buff leather coats like those used by the Mongols] able to save the wearer from any heavy blow. Others were clothed in fine silk with doublets quilted so thickly that they could not be pierced with arrows [either the old Islamic kazaghand lined with mail, or a form of soft armour]. Others had gilt cuirasses and coats of mail with so many weapons of offence and defence that it was a marvel to behold how well and skilfully they bore themselves in arms.' Mail was more popular in Iraq than Iran, where various forms of padded or quilted 'soft armour' remained in use well into the late 15th century."
* Metropolitan Museum of Art 1987 p85
"A Venetian ambassador to the court of an Aq-Qoyunlu who ruled from 1457 to 1478 wrote that they wore armor made of 'iron in little squares and wrought with gold and silver, tacked together with small mail.' In addition to the helmet and shirt, a warrior would have been equipped with arm and leg guards and would have been mounted on a horse protected by a bard of mail and plate armor."
* Nicolle ill. McBride 1990 p45-46
"Turcoman cavalryman, mid-15th century The cavalry elite of the Turkoman Qara Qoyunlu and Aq Qoyunlu armies appear to have been equipped in a manner closer to that of the rising Ottomans than to the troops of Transoxania. This man wears an early form of so-called 'turban helmet' which may have been developed in eastern Anatolia. Apart from his plated arm vambraces and mail-and-plate leg defences, he is protected by a scale or mail lined tunic. Note that the rivets holding the internal protective layer do not extend below the waist. His horse's armour is of cloth coloured lamellar." [references omitted]