Subject: savar knight
Culture: Sassanid Persian
Setting: Byzantine, Arab wars, late Sassanid empire 532-651
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Farrokh ill. McBride 2005 p5
"The Sassanians were the 'other superpower,' east of the Romans. In almost every battle with Rome, the Savaran cavalry were present. Their military machine proved to be Rome's equal, an 'unpalatable truth' which the Romans were eventually forced to accept. Scholars, popular imagination, and the media are excited by the likes of Alexander, Caesar, Hannibal, Attila, and Napoleon, but few know of Shapur I (241-72), who defeated three Roman emperors in his lifetime, or the death of Julian the Apostate in Persia, an event which ensured Christianity's survival in the West. Sassanian elite cavalry were key in preventing Rome from absorbing Persia and reaching the borders of India and China. Very few today realize the awe and fear that the Savaran inspired in their opponents. Livianus comments on the Romans who '... prefer to suffer any fate rather than look a Persian in the face.' The Sassanian Savaran in turn left their imprint on the Romans (and through them, the Europeans in general), as well as the Arabs and Turks. The Savaran did much to avenge Alexander's conquests centuries before, leaving behind an impressive legacy, which today is all but forgotten."
* Farrokh ill. McBride 2005 p28
"The third stage [of Savaran development] saw the appearance of the universal cavalryman, in which the trooper was proficient wth both bow and lance. This type of universal warrior was now widespread across Central Asia, Persia, and Byzantium. Central Asian influence was evident in swords and perhaps by late Sassanian times, stirrups. The Tagh-e-Bostan warrior is seen with a long mail shirt, spears, sword, quiver, and bows. Al-Tabari provides a complete description of the late Sassanian knight. The warrior wore a helmet (with two spare bowstrings behind it, it is not clear in what fashion), a shirt of mail extending below the knees, a breastplate, arm-guards, thigh-guards, greaves, sword, lance, lasso, mace (attached to girdle), axe, a quiver with 30 arrows, a bow case with two bows, and in contrast to his earlier Savaran predecessors, a shield. The latter was probably used to deflect missiles as well as for protection in close-quarter combat. Inter-cavalry fighting could see the use of not only swords, but axes and maces."
* Robinson 1967 p24-25
"The rock carvings at Tāq-i-Bōstān, Persia, include the superbly detailed equestrian figure of Khusru II (c. A.D. 620) as a clibanarius of the Sāssānian heavy cavalry, showing the King armed in a mail shirt and a helmet, and his horse Shabdiz with its head, neck, and breast protected by lamellar armour. The King's helmet is rounded and surmounted by a spherical crest, believed to be a bag containing hair drawn up from the top of the head. Whether this is a dummy on top of the helmet or a hole was provided in the crown, as with early Japanese helmets, we cannot tell. A long veil-like aventail of mail is attached to the rim of the helmet, which leaves only the monarch's eyes exposed -- a feature shared with contemporary helmets used by the Vendel warriors of Sweden. The King's defensive equipment is completed by a small circular convex shield."
* Coe, Connolly, Harding, Harris, LaRocca, Richardson, North, Spring, & Wilkinson 1993 p176 (Thom Richardson, "China and Central Asia" p172-185)
"This same sword type [akinakes with P-shaped suspension mount] makes its appearance in Sassanian Persia, presumably under Central Asian influence, but here it is found with a quite different type of hilt, a slightly curved 'pistol grip' with a nock for the index finger."
* Khorasani 2006 p88 (describing swords attributed to the era of Khosrow II)
"The introduction of P-shaped mounts resulted in a change in the method of sword suspension. Masia (2000:205) quotes Trousdale (1979:95), who states that this suspension system method was adopted in the 4th to 6th century A.D. and is related to the two-point suspension system. P-shaped attachments are very effective for suspending a sword. Contrary to the scabbard slide system, which makes the sword hang vertically in front of the body, P-shaped scabbard attachments allow the bearer to wear his sword in an oblique position. This is by far a much more effective way to carry a sword as a mounted warrior. It is interesting to note that this sword type is already depicted in the stag hunt at Taq-e Bostan, attributed to Khosrow II, and the sword guard seems to be smaller in size as well. According to Masia (2000:205), this is the earliest depiction in relief of this suspension system. Masia (2000:205) also quotes Trousdale (1975:92), who proposes that the continuation of non-functional, slide like devices shown on the reliefs and on silver plates after the Shapur II period is an indication that these were used as an artistic convention since the two-point system was already in use."
* Bennett 1998 p135
"gurz Persian term for a mace. Maces were used in Asia from prehistory onwards, and became particularly important from the 7th century with the establishment of armies largely composed of armoured cavalry, where a concussive weapon such as the mace was a more effective side arm than a sword."