Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1719 Kalmyk taiyishi
Subjecttaiyishi noble warrior
Culture: Kalmyk Mongol
Setting: Kalmyk khanate, western steppe 17-18thc
Evolution1234 Mongol ba'adur > ... > 1719 Kalmyk taiyishi

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

* Khodarkovsky 2002 p231
"taiyishi[:] a nobleman, a member of the ruling dynasty among the Kalmyks"

* Khodarkovsky 1992 p53-54
"Raids undertaken by a small group of warriors played an important economic and social role in Kalmyk society. They provided spoils for the participants and presented an opportunity for a tayishi to demonstrate his valor. For a tayishi, peace was synonymous with idleness, whereas by accomplishing a successful raid, a tayishi could exhibit knowledge of military craft, earn renown, strengthen his authority among his followers, and consequently attract more people to his side. These groups of tayishis and their retinues were the only standing military units in Kalmyk society. Such groups could be held together only by means of constant warfare."

* Gorelik 1995 p44
"In the early 18th [sic] century a major event took place in the steppes between the Don and Iaik; as a result of their hundred years' drive westwards the Kalmyks under Khan Ayuka invaded the region.  The Nogais were routed; some had to migrate and were included into the Bashkir and Kazakh ethnoses.  The Kalmyks founded their own khanate; this was subject to the Muscovite tsars who they served faithfully."  

* Konstam/Rickman 1993 p36
"On occasion the Russian army hired non-Cossack irregular horsemen from the outer fringes of Russia: Kalmuks from the area around Astrakhan, and Bashkirs from the Urals.  Both Sheremetiev and Apraxin used them during their raids on Swedish territory, where it was hoped that their Asiatic appearance would have an effect on the morale of the local population."  

* Khodarkovsky 1992 p55-56
"As the Russian government came to realize, the Kalmyks were most successful against their steppe neighbors. Speed, endurance, and surprise were the noteworthy qualities of the Kalmyk horsemen -- qualities the regular Russian army did not possess. These characteristics, eminently suitable to the harsh conditions of the steppes, made the Kalmyks an indispensable military force in campaigns against the Crimean and Kuban Tatars.
    "Kalmyk horsemen were known, above all, as wanton and ferocious warriors. Their warrior mentality and notorious fierceness had specific and economic roots. For Kalmyk nomads with no tradition of agriculture, artisanship, or trade, with cattle breeding as their only source of income, dependence on booty was far greater than among semisedentary peoples."


* Khodarkovsky 1992 p49-50
"The noble was best distinguished from the commoner by his armor. The Kalmyks had several kinds of armor -- khuyag (in Kirgiz and Russian kuyak); the most expensive was called lübchi khuyag and consisted of a thick wool caftan with heavy metal plates sewn on top of it. A less expensive armor with short sleeves was degeley khuyag. A suit of armor was always one of the most valued items among the Kalmyks, and a fine paid in armor was one of the heaviest penalties imposed by the 1640 law code. The same code prescribed that each forty tents had to produce two suits of armor annually. Even though its practical use was declining, armor remained an important status symbol. At the end of the eighteenth century, a suit of armor of poor quality could be exchanged for six or eight horses; Pallas once saw a suit of armor of Persian workmanship appraised at more than fifty horses."

* Gorelik 1995 p44
"The victories of the Kalmyks were due not only to their high degree of military skill and disipline and valour; Kalmyk warriors were armed to the teeth. Many of them wore lamellar armour, kuiaks, and mail over quilted coats. Kalmyk helmets derived from those of the Manchus, their neighbours and rivals in their remote Central Asian homeland."

* Konstam/Rickman 1993 p36
"Peter Henry Bruce, who visited Russia in the 18th century, wrote of their appearance: 'They are of low stature, and are generally bow-legged, occasioned by their being so continually on horseback, or sitting with their legs below them. Their faces are broad and flat, with a flat nose and little black eyes, distant from each other like the Chinese. They are of an olive colour, and their faces full of wrinkles, with very little or no beard. They shave their heads, leaving only a tuft of hair on the crown.'"


* Gorelik 1995 p44
"[I]n their remote Central Asian homeland ... originated the broad Kalmyk sabre. Besides powerful bows, Kalmyk warriors used firearms. Many of them used lances with very long heads.  [CONTRA Khodarkovsky 1992 p49]  At first the horses of the Kalmyk nobility were barded, but gradually bards as well as lamellar armours and high helmets vanished from the battlefield."

* Khodarkovsky 1992 p49
"Guns and muskets, even if useful tools, were still unfamiliar, alien, and not suitable to a true warrior by Kalmyk standards. Bows, sabers and spears remained the principal weapons of the Kalmyks throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries."

* Konstam & Rickman 1993 p36
"These nomadic horsemen still used composite bows as late as the 19th century."

* Khodarkovsky 1992 p49
"The best and most expensive bows were made out of maple wood or horn. Different types of arrows served different purposes: short arrows with clublike heads for shooting small animals and birds; light arrows with narrow iron chisellike heads; large war arrows with heavy, broad-pointed arrowheads. The end of each arrow was fitted with three or four eagle tail feathers because straight flight was not possible with wing feathers. Different types of arrows were placed in different compartments of a quiver hanging on the right side of the saddle, while the bow was attached to the left side."

* Khodarkovsky 1992 p49
"The spear was used infrequently and was not of great value."  [CONTRA Gorelik 1995 p44]


​* Khodarkovsky 1992 p49
"A whip ... was as powerful a weapon in Kalmyk hands as any other. Often witnesses were astonished by the Kalmyks' skillful use of the whip. There were several different strike techniques, and with one blow of a whip a Kalmyk could kill a wolf or dismount and mortally wound a horseman."