Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1520 Vijayanagara ravuttan
Subjectravuttan cavalry trooper
Culture: Indo-Turkish
Setting: Vijayanagara empire 14-16thc

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

* Chase 2003 p130
"[I]n southern India, the population was spreading from the fertile river valleys and coastal regions to the arid upland plateaus in the center of the peninsula. Pressure from the Bahmani sultans of the Deccan contributed to the rise of the powerful Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagara in the mid-1300s.  For over three centuries, from the mid-1300s to the mid-1600s, four successive dynasties ruled the greater part of southern India from their capital on the plateau.  Vijayanagara halted Muslim expansion by borrowing Turkish techniques of mounted warfare and by attracting Turkish horsemen into its own forces."

* Doniger 2009 p560 
"'Ravuttan' designates a Muslim horseman, a folk memory of the historical figure of the Muslim warrior on horseback, 'whether he be the Sufi warrior leading his band of followers or the leader of an imperial army of conquest.'"

* Doniger 2021 p109-110
"Many Hindu rituals and myths involve Arabian horses and/or Muslim riders.  Despite or because of the political domination of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, the Indian stories from this period generally depict both Arabian horses and their Muslim riders in a favorable light.  For Muslims had lived in India for many centuries by the time these stories were composed, and were no longer always associated with dominant political groups, and many Hindus welcomed Muslims as the bearers of the gift of horses.
    "Arabian horse lore strongly influenced Indian horse lore, and there are many Indian stories about heroic 'Turkish' horses and horsemen.  One of the most interesting examples of a Muslim equine hero in Indian folklore is Muttal Ravuttan, who is worshipped in Hindu temples in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu.  As Alf Hiltebeitel tells us, 'The name Muttal Ravuttan derives its second element from a term meaning Muslim cavalier, horseman, or trooper.  The term clearly evokes its common and traditional association of the Muslim warrior on horseback, a Sufi warrior leading his band of followers or the leader of an imperial army of conquest.  Hindu worshippers make vegetarian offerings to an image of Muttal Ravuttan as a horse-rider (a ravuttan) sculpted in relief on a stone plaque."


* Elgood 2004 p57
"There are a number of metal helmets from south-west India with 'anchor' nose guards."

* Robinson 1967 p106
"This large nasal is almost certainly a feature of southern Indian armour and a means of identification."


* Elgood 2004 p55
"We have in sixteenth-century Vijayanagara a tradition of padded cloth armour for man, horse and elephant (augmented in the higher ranks with metal plates) but no mention of mail.  This form of armour continued in use until the nineteenth century in Hindu society ...."

* Elgood 2004 p56
"[T]he warrior riders depicted on the pillars of Vijayanagara buildings in the sixteenth century have a raised rib pattern on their upper and lower garments like widely spaced courduroy.  This occurs so frequently that it appears to be a standard item of equipment; the presumption must be that it represents some form of cloth armour since it is clearly flexible and the design is inconsistent with metal armour."


​* Elgood 2004 p75
"[T]he southern Hindus used talwars with knuckle-bows, hemispherical pommels and with the grip at an angle to the blade (as distinct from the northern talwar where the line of the blade is continued in the grip); the southern blade also has a different shape as can be seen in sixteenth-century sculpture." 


* Rawson 1968 p41
"The essential character of the style of artistic thought of the period lies in its heavy emphasis on changes of direction in the linear elements of which a design is composed.  In the case of the swords, the forms of which are all developments of earlier forms, what were in the earlier weapons slight angularities and gentle curves become in this period strongly marked angles and deep curves.  Violence of line and angle, and depth of relief became the characteristic Tamil mode of expression of the intention to glorify, and in the grotesquery and flamboyance of the Tamil swords can be seen an ostentatious proclamation of the intensity of the warrior's love for his sword as the emblem of that fanatical extravagance of form must often have solely impeded the application of the weapon to its proper use.
    ​"The South Indian flamboyant sword in its modern form with the quatrefoil guard and square wooden cushion pommel has been observed on Vijayanagara sculptures.  On the viragals of the period the same form appears, as well as a form with the same hilt, but a long tapering straight blade."

* Elgood 2004 p