Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>525BC Achaemenid huvaka
Subjecthuvaka 'kinsman' cavalryman
Culture: Persian/Iranian
Setting: Achaemenid empire, Persia 6-4thcBC

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

* Fields 2011 p41
"La caballería fue fundamental en la conquista de nuevos territorios y conservó su importancia hasta los últimos días del Imperio aqueménida. Fue Ciro quien organizó y financió la primera caballería persa, empleando para ello el botín y las tierras que había conquistado en sus campañas occidentales. Para establecer el poder a caballo del reino, concedió tierras a unos persas conocidos como los <<iguales>>, a los que luego pidió permiso para utilizar sus tierras para mantener a la caballería. Por ejemplo, entregó siete ciudades en la Anatolia del norte (FGrHist 472 F6) a un tal Pitarco, nombre griego. Quince mil nobles persas recibieron el título honorario de Huvaka (pariente) y Ciro llegó a exigir que este grupo de élite persa se dirigiera a todas partes a caballo, de modo que era una vergüenza para ellos ser vistos caminando a pie. Los jinetes de élite, <<un millar de fuertes>> (Herodoto 8, 113, 2), procedían sin duda de la Huvaka. Probablemente, la primera caballería persa fue creada partir de la excelente caballería de sus vecinos medos."

* Hackett ed. 1989 p85 (Nick Sekunda, "The Persians" p82-103)
"The core of the army was a levy of the Persians fighting as infantry.  This Persian force was supplemented by, it seems, other myriads of infantry levied from the subject, or 'allied' peoples, and smaller forces of cavalry contributed by nations possessing troops of that arm.  Foremost among these cavalry contingents was that of the Medes, who were the finest horsemen in the ancient East.  Their loyalty could never be trusted completely, however, and thus Cyrus was compelled to raise a purely Persian force of cavalry.  The need became especially critical in 539, when the campaigns in the West culminated in the fall of Babylon, and Cyrus began to look eastwards.  The possibilities for Median conspiracy with eastern Iranian tribes must have increased, as must the need for cavalry.  It may be at this period, therefore, that Cyrus resolved to raise a force of Persian cavalry.
​   "Both horses and the wealth necessary to maintain them, which had been raised in the recent campaigns of conquest in the West, were distributed among the Persian 'equals', and Cyrus ordained that henceforth they should ride everywhere, and that it should be considered a disgrace for a Persian nobleman to be seen on foot.  At the top of the Persian social hierarchy were the 15,000 noblemen given the honorific title of the 'Kinsmen', or Huvaka.  The élite cavalry regiment of the Persian army consisted of a thousand men drawn from the King's Huvaka.  This regiment constituted an élite within an élite, for other references, including Herodotus, mention a myriad of Persian cavalry."

* de Souza 2003 p24
"The conquest of Lydia in 547 demonstrated to Kyros the Great the need for a reliable corps of Persian cavalry, so he distributed conquered lands among the Persian nobles so that they could raise horses and fight as cavalry.  The Persian kings also used Medes as cavalry and from the reign of Dareios onwards they recruited mercenary infantrymen and cavalrymen from the Saka tribes of central Asia."

* Vuksic/Grbasic 1993 p10
"The Persian heavy cavalry was made up of riders from Bactria, Media, Armenia and Persia -- about 15,000 strong, and usually occupied a space in the centre of the Persian battle formation.  The light cavalry consisted of nomadic horsemen inhabiting the Iranian plateau -- Parthians, Arachosians, Dahaes, Sacaes, Bactrians, and the Scythians, who lived beside the Black Sea.  These detachments usually numbered about 2,000 men, except for the Scythians, whose numbers sometimes reached 5,000.  As the armament of the light cavalry was intended for long-distance combat with bow and arrow and, more rarely, javelins, and because their protective equipment was poor -- mostly woven shields, and only occasionally scale armour -- they fought in loose order.  They were placed on the flanks of the battle formation, but were not entrusted with operational tasks.  Pillaging tended to distract them from the battle and the exploitation of initial successes."

* Shepherd 2019 p40-41
"Herodotus states that Persian and Median cavalry were equipped in the same way as the infantry, but that they would not have carried shields when fighting as horse-archers.  They were generally sent in to attack first, repeatedly charging up into bowshot and javelin range, harassing, wheeling and retiring.  They then made way for the infantry, who continued to shower the enemy with arrows and then attacked or defended themselves with spears, and swords or light axes as secondary weapons; their iron- or bronze-tipped spears were shorter than the hoplite doru.  The cavalry came in again when enemy formations were broken and in flight, riding them down with spears and swords.  They were accomplished horsemen, riding without stirrups or saddles of any kind, but they could operate effectively only in level, open country on ground that was reasonably kind to unshod hooves."

* Llewellyn-Jones 2022 p250
"In time-honoured Iranian tradition, the horse cavalry used lances and bows and arrows to slaughter their enemies from afar, charged their horses into the melee, and pursued adversaries as they fled."


​* Fields 2011 p42
"Los jinetes persas iban equipados approximadamente como los soldados de a pie (Herodoto 7, 86, 1), aunque también llevaban dos jabalinas de madera de fresno (en griego palton, pl. palta), de entre 1,5 y 1,8 m de longitud y con puntas de bronce o de hierro. Los guerreros podían arrojar una de estas palta, mientras que con la otra hacían lo mismo o la empleaban para cargar. Jenofonte comenta explícitamente (Del arte ecuestre 12, 12) que era un arma de carga más eficaz que las endebles lanzas de la caballería griega."

* Bennett 1998 p241
"palton  Achaemenid Persian cavalry javelin, about 180 cm/71 in long, with a stout wooden shaft and an iron or bronze head. Two were normally carried; one was thrown, the second could also be thrown or kept as a thrusting weapon.
    "The Greek soldier and historian Xenophon recommended them for Greek cavalry because they were less likely to break than the slender Greek cavalry spear."


* Hackett ed. 1989 p85 (Nick Sekunda, "The Persians" p82-103)
​"The traditional Persian calf-length tunic was unsuitable for riding, and before long Persian noblemen and cavalry adopted Median dress, though this does not seem to have happened immediately.  Median dress consisted of trousers, a long-sleeved tunic reaching down to the knee, and a sleeved cloak worn on the shoulders leaving the arms free, rather like a hussar's pelisse, which was called a kandys.  Later representations show élite cavalrymen wearing cloth of gold tunics and silver embroidered trousers.  These cavalrymen may belong to the Huvaka regiment.  The purple kandys with a leopard skin lining could also be a badge of the Huvaka.  Other regiments of cavalry were more simply attired in cloaks of purple, nightshade, crimson or sanguine, which Xenophon tells us Cyrus distributed to the various regiments."

* Yarwood 1978 p319-321
"Persian dress had evolved from the central Asiatic type of wear based on the needs of the nomadic horsemen; it consisted of tunic, coat and trousers, fitted garments derived from the originals of skin, felted wool and leather, having affinity with the Chinese dress of the east and the Scythian of the fringes of Europe.
    "In Persia men wore a knee-length tunic, belted at the waist and with long sleeves set in at the shoulder.  Under this were trousers cut wide at the top and tapering to be more fitting at the ankle.  Boots or shoes accompanied these, not sandals, and both styles fitted up high.  A coat, when worn, was ankle-length and was fastened across the chest with ties.  It was often worn open or slung round the shoulders without putting the arms into the long sleeves.  Caps of felt or leather were tall and cylindrical, round or of Phrygian design.  Alternative headcoverings were the ribbed or pleated tiara and the white linen or wool draped cloth which was wound round in a conical or skull-fitting shape and was large enough to cover the shoulders also."

* Bennett 1998 p315
"tiara Achaemenid Persian military headgear, a hoodlike cap with a broad neck flap and two narrower flaps that covered the cheeks and were often tied over the chin. The top of the cap flopped over to the front or the side; to wear the tiara stiffened so that the top stood up was a mark of royalty. The cap was usually yellow, sometimes white."

* Ventura 1993 p9
"Persians commonly wore soft cloth trousers, called anaxyrides.  On top they wore a short kandys and a cloak that could have had a fur edge."

* Bennett 1998 p175
"kandys  Achaemenid Persian military cloak of Median origin.  Worn by officers and elite cavalry, the kandys was a sign of status, often coloured with expensive dyes such as purple, lined with fur, and trimmed with leopard skin.  Although it had sleeves, the kandys was usually worn as a cloak.
    "According to the Greek historian Xenophon, cavalrymen only put their arms through the sleeves for royal inspections."


* Fields 2011 p42
"En lugar de la tradicional tiara, algunos jinetes llevaban cascos de metal, por regla general de bronce y de forma redondeada. Podían llevar corazas de lino reforzado, fabricadas con dos capas de lino acolchadas con lana de algodón. El lino acolchado no creaba una protección tan eficaz como el bronce, pero era más ligero y cómodo. Aunque las corazas de escamas de metal (hierro o bronce) o de hueso era ideales, parece ser que las de lino eran las más habituales."

* Wiesehöfer 1996 p92-93
"The Achaemenid cavalry is described by Xenophon as follows:
Cyrus [the Younger] leapt down from his chariot, put on his breastplate, mounted his horse and took hold of his javelins.  He gave orders for all the rest to arm themselves and to take up their correct positions.  This was done readily enough ...  Cyrus and about six hundred of his personal cavalry in the centre were armed with breastplates and armour to cover the thighs.  They all wore helmets except for Cyrus, who went into battle bare-headed.  All their horses had armour covering the forehead and the horsemen also carried Greek sabres."


​* Fields 2011 p45 caption
"[U]n sagaris [fue] la estilizada hacha adoptada por los persas ...."

* Bennett 1998 279
"sagaris  picklike battle-axe used by Achaemenid Persian troops in the 6th to 4th centuries BC, and by the Saka tribes of Central Asia and the early Sarmatians.  Apparently optimized for piercing helmets, it had an iron or bronze head comprised of a long, flattened spike in front and a hammer head or smaller spike in back." 

* Sekunda/Chew 1992 p


*McCaffery 2023 January-February p44-45
"Although not much shorter than the smaller known examples of Greek xiphoi swords, the straight, double-edged akinakes, typically 35-45 cm in length, is generally thought of as more of a dagger from both modern and ancient perspectives alike.  This was not a primary weapon to be utilized in battle by Persian troops.  Indeed, Quintus Curtius (3.3) disparagingly questions the serviceability of the akinakes, listing it amongst the 'attire of the king noteworthy of luxury', adorned as it was with a golden belt and bejewelled scabbard.
    "Yet at the same time as Quintus Curtius' accusations of feminine elegance comes a recognition that the akinakes played a crucial role in the recognition of individuals of high status within Persian aristocracy.  Of particular note were the 'King's Kinsmen', known as the 'Huvaka' in Old Persian.  The practice of their being presented with a golden akinakes perhaps harkens back to Elamite origins whereby the wearing of such daggers identified the best warriors."

* Bennett 1998 p7
"akinakes  straight, two-edged sword with a 20-25 cm/8-10 in blade, used from the 7th century BC by Scythians, Persians, and others.  It was worn in a scabbard suspended from a waistbelt and held in place by a thong tied around the right thigh.
    "Both hilt and scabbard, particularly the large trefoil scabbard-chape typical of Persian examples, could be decorated with figured plates of bone, ivory, or gold."

* Cole 2021 p428
"akinakēs  a light, straight-bladed long knife popular with Persian troops."

* Sekunda/Chew 1992 p