An Ottoman full armor of rider and horse (Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Port Doha, Qatar.).

By Periklis Deligiannis

In the following images, I present an indicative collection of arms and armour of the Turanic empires and peoples of the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era (according to European chronology) which witnessed the greatest extent of the Turanic realms. They are arms and armour for men and horses, coming from the Sultanate of Delhi, the Mughal Empire in India, the Tatars of the Golden Horde, the Ottoman Empire, the Mamluk Sultanate, the Turkoman-controlled Empires of Iran, the Central Asian Turanic tribes and elsewhere.
The images are taken from museums and organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Furusiyya Art Foundation, Topkapi Palace Museum (Constantinople), Museum of Kulikovo Battlefield (representations by M. Gorelik whom I sincerely congratulate for his lifetime work), Museo Stibbert in Florence, Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, the Royal Academy of Arts (London) and others. If I do not know the museum of origin of an image, I mention that in its caption.
The Ottomans and the Mamluks are well known to the readers, so I will briefly refer just to the other mentioned Turanic peoples. Concerning the Mamluks, I will only point out that they were former slave-warriors (according to the early Islamic constitutions of the ghulams and others) who were controlling Egypt, Syria and other neighboring regions and were mostly Turks from the Kipchak and Oghuz tribal federations, but they also contained many Circassians, Georgians, Greeks and Slavs.
The Turkomans of the Iranian regions were mainly of Oghuz origins and were for many centuries the rulers of today’s Iran, Iraq (an Arabic country) and other neighboring countries through empires like the Great Seljuk, the Aq Qoyunlu, the Safavid and the Zengid, in which empires they were the main military forces (the Safavid dynasty seems to have been a mixed Irano-Turkoman family). Some well known tribal federations of the Turkomans/Oghuz of Iran were the Aq Qoyunlu, the Kara Qoyunlu and the Afshar. Modern descendants include the Azeris, the Turkmen and the Kasgay. The Lesser Seljuks and the Ottomans originally  were also Turkoman/Oghuz tribes of Iran who finally settled in Asia Minor.

The Delhi Sultanate and its successor Mughal Empire were founded by Muslim Turkic and Turko-Mongol tribes of Central Asia. The Mughal dynasty of Babur Shah was partially descended from the Turkicized Mongol Barlas tribe (from which comes the name of the Mughal dynasty, meaning ‘Mongol’), but it was essentially a Turanic dynasty, leading an army of Turks, Iranians (including ancestors of the Afghans and Tajiks), turkicized Mongols and a few others.
The Golden Horde resulted from the division of the Mongol Empire, founded by Genghis Khan and his sons. The khanate was extended on the Eurasian steppes from modern Moldova to the Central Asia and its people were Turanic-speaking Tatars coming from the fusion of local Kipchaks, Volga Bulgars, Chuvash, Burtas and other Turks with the Mongol settlers. The khan of the Golden Horde was initially the sovereign and then the nominal sovereign of the Russian principalities, until the Tatars suffered a crushing blow by the Russians at the Battle of Kulikovo field (AD 1380). The Horde had already split into the Tatar Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, Crimea and others. It was reunified by khan Tokhtamysh who also re-subdued the Russians but some time after his death, it was finally dissolved. The Tatar domination on Russia officialy ended in 1480.

00Map of the Turanic Empires in the 16th-17th centuries. The Mamluks were already annexed to the Ottoman Empire, but they continued to control Egypt and Syria under the Sultan’s sovereignty. The Golden Horde was already dissolved and the remaining Tatar Khanate was under the Ottoman protection, while the Delhi Sultanate was replaced by the Mughal Empire. In the Turanic Central Asia, the Uzbeks were the strongest tribe (Copyright: Rand McNally & co).


Mail and plate armour (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Ottoman helmet of the classic shishak type, widespread almost all over the Turanic world (Topkapi Palace Museum).



Tatar emir of the Golden Horde with helmet with mail-visor, elaborate scale armour, internal mail armour, an elaborate shield and a curved saber (Museum of Kulikovo Battlefield, representation by M. Gorelik).



Full armour of rider and horse of a Turcoman Sipahi (spachi). The warrior also has the characteristic Turanic kalkan shield (Museo Stibbert Florence, Copyright: Edizioni Polistampa).



An elaborate Ottoman kalkan shield of the 17th century (unknown museum)



A Turanic protective plate for the forearm (copyright: Furusiyya Art Foundation).


01Turanic or Tibetan arms and armor of Central Asia (Metropolitan Museum of Art).


16In this image you can see the influence of Mamluk Egypt on the military equipment of the Muslim states of the African hinterland: helmet, mail armour, shield and sword from Sudan, which copy the respective arms and armor of the Mamluks (unknown museum).


20Arms, helmets and mail armour of the Turkmens of Iran (unknown museum).


22Mamluk full armor of rider and horse (Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Port Doha, Qatar.).

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