Forensic Fashion
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>Costume Studies
>>1587 Safavid ghulam

Subject: غلام ghulam knight
Culture: Turco-Iranian 
Setting: Safavid empire, Persia 16-17thc
Evolution1467 Ak Koyunlu cavalry > 1587 Safavid ghulam

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

* Chase 2003 p117
"'Abbas added several new units to the Safavid army at the end of the 1500s: the ghulam corps, the musketeer corps, and the artillery corps.  The ghulams were slaves, comparable to the janissaries or the mamluks ... in Turkey and Egypt; they were purchased from among the Circassians, the Georgians, and the Armenians, all non-Muslims of course.  The musketeers on the other hand were freeborn Iranians.  Initially, the ghulams were cavalry and the musketeers infantry, but the former also carried muskets and the latter were later provided with horses. In other words, both the ghulams and the musketeers became dragoons.  There is no sign of infantry."

* Streusand 2011 p170-171
"Military slaves (qullar) frequently commanded the tupchis and tufangchis.  Tahmasp apparently began development of a military slave corps.  The prisoners from his Caucasian campaigns, converted to Islam and made military slaves, probably became the nucleus of the corps of ghulaman-i khassay-i sharifa (slaves of the royal household; also called qullar), which is first mentioned under Abbas.  The ethnic origin of the ghulams did not matter; the extraordinary loyalty and reliability of military slaves in general, coupled, apparently, with [the] same high level of military training as the Janissaries, did.  Because all of the new corps apparently served in the center of the battle formation, the precise tactical role of the ghulams is unclear.  They were mounted but used firearms; presumably they fought as dragoons (mounted infantry).  There may have been separate cavalry and infantry components based on the Ottoman model."

* Elgood 1995 p116
"According to the Venetian Ambassador Contarini, writing in Italian in 1519, the Turks esteemed the Iranians as better fighters than any other nation, even the Hungarians: 'the Turks have a great fear of the Persians, saying that they fight fearlessly and are well armed with good arms; and until they are wounded, and have fallen to the ground, they fight with all their strength; so that, all in all, the Turks hesitated to fight them.  They regard them as superior to the Hungarians or any other nation that they have fought.'"

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Helmet (1966.1.1359)
"The concept of heroic chivalry has a long heritage in the Islamic world. One of the early cultural achievements of the Safavid Empire in 16th century Persia was reconciling two major strands of Islamic culture. These were Sufi mysticism and Shi'ia, the traditional veneration of ideal, heroic individuals who exhibited the qualities of nobility, self-sacrifice, purity of character, and generosity to their enemies in victory or defeat. This combination underpinned the civilised attitude to warfare that the Safavids exhibited, which in turn influenced the military ethics of later Mogul emperors."


* Persian arms and armour 2000 p68
"In the 15th century, a mail-plate type of armour appeared simultaneously in Turkey, Persia and north India, under the reign of the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526).  It was known as the joshan (yushman), and had steel tiles that were woven into the mail.  There were many methods of combining the tiles and the steel plait [SIC].  In Persia and Moghul India, joshans were in the form of jackets or coats from steel mail with two, four or eight steel plates arranged in two rows, with a buckle in front, and had three or five rows of small tiles on the back, arranged similarly to roof tiles.  Some joshans also had the small tiling on the front."

* Robinson 1967 p35
"In the second half of the fifteenth century and the whole of the sixteenth, miniatures show a marked decline -- for, apart from minor features of the equipment, one warrior is like another and it is obvious in many that stylization and simplification had begun to completely dominate the miniaturist's art.  With few exceptions, the Persian warrior is shown in rounded conical helmet with tall central spike or plume-tube, mail aventail falling to the shoulders clear of the face, and generally with earguards as well, now always of blunt, angular, pointed shape.  The helmets are fluted and decorated with engraved or gold damascened geometric and floral patterns in a deep band around the bowl.  The body and arms are usually devoid of visible mail -- but we must assume that the rich coats, with short sleeves and frogged fastenings down the front, cover the body armour.  The forearms are encased in tubular bazuband, with or without extensions for the hands.  Over the high-heeled, knee-length, leather riding-boots are worn greaves, covering only the front of the leg and fastened with ties or straps.  If no greaves are worn, long extensions to the knee and thigh defences take their place.  The thigh armour shown is usually constructed of vertical rows of small horizontal plates set side by sie and, as we know from surviving examples, connected by mail, with a circular dished plate for the knee-cap.  The extensions attached to the lower edge of the knee-plates are either pointed curtains of mail or a long pointed piece built up as the thigh portion from small plates and mail."

* Richardson 2015 p80
"In the late 17th century, mail and plate body armour was replaced by a form of plate armour called chahar a'ineh, 'four mirrors', comprising four rectangular plates joined by straps worn on the chest over a mail shirt.  These were usually decorated with gold over lay [SIC], usually with calligraphic passages from the Qur'an, and particularly during the Qajar period, with hunting scenes.  They were made en suite with a pair of arm defences (bazuband), a helmet with a mail aventail and nasal defence (kolah khod) and steel shield (separ)."


* Richardson 2015 p90
"Many Safavid saddle axes were of very high quality, and signed by their makers, among whom Lutf 'Ali was a particular saddle-axe specialist working in the 17th century."

* Persian arms and armour 2000 p

* Khorasani 2006 p


* Persian arms and armour 2000 p66
"Shishpar, sheshbur (feathered mace)  These names refer to maces in which the head consists of feathers.  Shishpar, in direct translation means 'six feathers', and sheshbur means 'lung ripper'.  Persian maces almost always had six feathers (very rarely they had up to seven or eight).  They were used both as a combat weapon and as a symbol of authority; in the second case they were richly decorated.  Some of them were made solely from semi-precious stones and gold and were decorated with enamel and damascening."

* Khorasani 2006 p


* Richardson 2015 p86-87
"Sword blades made in Iran were formed from a watered crucible 'wootz' steel.  The characteristic surface is caused by crystallisation of the steel in the crucible in which it was smelted.  A super-high carbon steel, it combines flexibility and resilience, and is capable of taking a very fine edge.  Persian blades are usually single-edged, with a strong, even curve.  Persian shamshir blades had a very high reputation and were widely exported both to other parts of the Islamic world and to Europe.  One 17th-century sword maker, Asad Allah of Isfahan, had a great reputation, to the extent that his signature was applied to blades for nearly 200 years after his death, and an Asad Allah blade became a byword for a high-quality Iranian blade."

* Müller/Kölling 1984 p75
"Persische Säbel -- Shamshir (Löwenschweif) und Scimitar gennant -- haben eine besonders stark gebogene, schlanke, sich sehr verjüngende Klinge ohne Hohlschliffe.  Die Pfeilhöhe ist also besonders groß.  Das obere Griffende knickt stark nach der Schneidenseite hin ab und ist oft mit einer Griffkappe versehen.  Die geraden Parierstandigen erweitern sich zu einem breiten Mittelschild."

* Seitz 1981 p348
"Shamshir und scimitar sind verschiedene Namen für den persischen Säbel mit stark gebogener Klinge, der ziemlich schlank ist und zur Spitze hin noch schlanker wird.  Die Proportionen der Klinge erkennt man daraus, daß die Länge in diesem Fall 77 cm beträgt und die Pfeilhöhe 9,5 cm."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Shamshir (1902.87.10)
"Known to Europeans as the scimitar, the shamshir is the quintessential long-sword of the horsemen of Persia (Iran), Moghul India and Arabia.  This particular example belongs to a style of the period 1650-1750.
    "The name means 'tiger's claw' [SIC = CONTRA Müller/Kölling 1984 p75], and alludes to its distinctive curve.  This curve is a direct functional development, intended to widen the blade's cutting portion and permit deeper wounds when used in a downwards 'drawing' cut.  Shamshirs are highly adapted to the horse-mounted form of hand-to-hand combat practised in western and southern Asia between the 16th and 18th centuries, whereby attacks could be made either in passing or by slashing down on infantry from above.
    "... The blades of the best shamshirs were manufactured using wootz, otherwise known as 'True Damascus' steel.  This creates a very particular grain on the surface of the blade.
    "True Damascus blades were manufactured in the Safavid Persian Empire (covering the area of modern Iran and parts of several other countries), originally in Damascus, and then later in Khorassan and Isfahan, using steels of Indian origin. Damascus steel is created by the extremely slow cooling of the melted iron, which encourages the formation of extremely hard Martensite crystals among softer Cementite ones.  The veins of these Martensite crystals create the distinctive 'watered steel' pattern on Damascus blades, as well as giving them a fine balance of hardness and flexibility.  In the 16th century, Persian 'watered steel' was famous across Eurasia. High quality Persian shamshirs ... were much sought after since they were capable of splitting contemporary European helmets with a single stroke, and halving a silk handkerchief drawn lightly across their blades.

* Fryer 1969 p88
Shamshir A Persian sabre with curved blade of even width.  The hilt generally ahs a straight crosspiece of steel or silver-gilt, and ivory grips with right-angled pommel."

* Persian arms and armour 2000 p

* Khorasani 2006 p




* Stone 1934 p493-494
"PESH-KABZ, PESHCUBZ, PESHQABZ.  A form of dagger used in Persia and Northern India.  The name is Persian and means 'foregrip.'  The blade is of T section and is quite wide at the hilt, narrowing suddenly just below it, and then tapering regularly to a very slender point.  As a rule the blade is straight, but not infrequently has a pronounced reverse curve.  The hilt is often of walrus ivory (Persian, shirmani), and is heavy and has neither guard nor pommel.  This knife is obviously intended for forcing an opening in mail; and as a piece of engineering design could hardly be improved upon for the purpose." [CONTRA Khorasani 2006 p237]  [references omitted]

* Persian arms and armour 2000 p65
"The pishkabz has a blade that narrows abruptly at the forte and narrows towards the end and forms a sharp tip.  It has a 'T' shaped cross section which gives it exceptional stiffness.  Superior daggers were manufactured from fine-grained, hard bulat.
    "The thick cylindrical hilt is most commonly manufactured from walrus tusk and has an open-work ring.  The claddings are connected to the tang with a few rivets with no heads (this is typical of Persian swords and daggers).  The pishkabz is a dangerous combat weapon used for thrusting and piercing through chain mail armour. [CONTRA Khorasani 2006 p237]
    "There are some pishkabs [sic] with straight blades up to 50 cm long and some with 'S' shaped blades, usually not longer than 25cm.  The latter were more decorated so they were probably used as a decorative weapon."

* Khorasani 2006 p237
"Regarding the term pishqabz and its meaning, one should note that pish means the front part of anything.  Zeller and Rohrer qoute Egorton [SIC], who used the term pishqabz for all daggers with straight or double-curved blades as long as they had a wide forte and a T-spine.  On the other hand, Zeller and Rohrer also quote Moser together with his secretary, Mirza Dawud, who were of the opinion that this name should be used for denoting the dagger with a double-curved edge.  Kobylinski describes the pishqabz as a weapon with a blade that narrows abruptly at the forte and narrows again towards the point, forming a sharp tip.  Kobylinski also states that the pishqabz is a dangerous combat weapon and was used to thrust and pierce through mail armor, yet he does not provide any historical evidence for his statement."  [references omitted]

*Khorasani 2006 p238
"Unlike khanjars and kardspishqabz are rarely portrayed in Iranian miniatures.  In a miniature from a manuscript of the Shahname from the 10th century hegira (16th A.D.), entitled 'The Killing of Iraj by his Brothers Salim and Tur,' one of the brothers is holding a separ (shield) in his left hand above his head, and in his right hand is a pishqabz with which he is stabbing his unarmed brother, Iraj, in the throat.  Iraj is shown falling to the ground.  Both the curved handle of the pishqabz and its curved blade are clearly depicted.  The Digital Lexicon of Dehkhoda describes a pishqabz in the following terms: first, it gives and explanation of the handle, qabz, stating that it means 'to grip' or 'to hold in the hand,' further explaining that pishqabz is the name for a weapon and is named after a technique in wrestling.  It further reveals that this weapon is called leiki in India."