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Sassanian riding a horse facing backwards
#1
Moya Catherine Carey uses a silver-gilt plate (Sasanian period) Iran Bastan Museum 1275, Tehran, for the typical costume on Sasanian royal hunting plates:
[Image: Sassanid-Plate-Bastan-1275_th.jpg]

It has the king sitting backwards on the horse. This is unusual as other Sassanid and post Sassanid plates have figures making Parthian shots mounted normally. For example:


[Image: Turushev_plate_th.jpg]
Turushev plate, A Sasanian King Hunting Lions, 310-320 CE, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

[Image: Cleveland_Hormizd_plate_th.jpg]
Hormizd plate, A Sasanian King Hunting Lions, 5th-6th Century, The Cleveland Museum of Art 1962.150

[Image: Ufa_plate_th.jpg]
Ufa plate, Sasanian King Hunting Mountain Sheep, 1st half 7th century, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

[Image: StPetersburg-Dish_with_hunting_scene_th.jpg]
Post Sasanian or Khorosanian Dish with hunting scene, 7th-9th century, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg


Did they ride facing backwards? Is Iran Bastan Museum 1275 plate indeed Sasanian? Does it have a better dating?

Mirror site:
Silver-gilt plate (Sasanian period) Iran Bastan Museum 1275, Tehran

Druzhina
Plates with figures from Persia and Central Asia
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#2
He might have reversed himself in the saddle, but it looks to me as if he's just twisted right round. His toes are pointed straight downwards, which implies a long leg stretch!

Also, look at the position of his sword - it would presumably be belted on his hip, so if he was reversed in the saddle it would still be on his hip, on the outside of his leg. Here it's on the inside of his leg - so either the sword is attached to the saddle, or he's turned his leg outwards by twisting his body around...
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#3
Only in the first image (Bastan Museum) is the knee facing backwards, all 4 others (that I can see, I get some malware reports) show the knee facing forwards, a sure sign that the rider is still in the common position. I don't know why the first plate show the rider reversed in the saddle. Maybe a mistake by an artist? A nobleman showing off?
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Robert Vermaat
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#4
The Sassanian king riding backwards on the silver plate appears, in my barbaric judgement, to be the victim of Extreme Artistic License. Notice, also, he wears his sword on the right side (not historically correct) and it even hangs between his right leg and the body of the horse. Any horse with a scabbard jammed into it ribs would rightfully buck the rider to the ground, especially an idiot riding backwards. Plus anyone riding with a sword between his legs would castrate himself at full canter in two minutes, approximately, maybe a little less. (I'm not going to test the theory.) Cool

Please click on photo.
   
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#5
(07-23-2017, 12:39 PM)Alanus Wrote: Notice, also, he wears his sword on the right side (not historically correct) and it even hangs between his right leg and the body of the horse.

Exactly. He has the sword on his hip, but he is twisted around in the saddle with his leg pushed backwards, so the sword is between his leg and the horse's flank.

You can also see his sword belt pulled across his waist, and the muscles of his calf showing the inside of his leg, not the outside.

Why is the sword position incorrect though? All the other depictions in the original post show the sword worn on the right as well.
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#6
Hi, Nathan

All of the riders in the other plates (or platters) are riding facing to the left, their geldings are cantering to the left, and the sword is worn on the left. Sassanians, Sarmatians, and even Romans, wore their longswords on the left. Our crazy guy is riding backwards, the horse canters to the left, his knee joint and ankle joint are facing right, and he has his sword on the right side of his hip.  Big Grin
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#7
(07-23-2017, 03:05 PM)Alanus Wrote: Our crazy guy is riding backwards, the horse canters to the left, his knee joint and ankle joint are facing right, and he has his sword on the right side of his hip.  Big Grin

Ach, sorry - I meant to say that he has his sword on his left hip, in the same way as the others...

But unless he genuinely is carrying his sword on the inside of his thigh (!), I would still say that he's turned sideways in the saddle, stretching his left leg backwards towards the rear of the horse. The sword is still on the outside of his leg, but as the leg is turned backwards the sword appears sandwiched between his thigh and the horse's flank. I'm probably not explaining this too well...!
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#8
Sorry to disagree with you on this one, Nathan.

The only way to posture yourself on a horse and have your leg joints in such a position is to ride backwards. Even the sword's angle shows he is backwards. The swords carried in a normal (facing to the left) position are hanging at 70 to 80 degrees, as seen on all the other plates. On this plate, the sword hangs at about 100 degrees-- backwards. I ride horses a couple of days a week, and there is no way an equestrian can place himself in this stance except by riding backward.

Humor is transcultural, and I believe the Sassanian king commissioned this piece as an inside court joke... one that we can never fully know. Wink
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#9
I'm with Nathan on this. The re-angling and re-positioning of the sword seems to demonstrate this. It may not be anatomically perfect and the rider might have to be a contortionist to achieve that precise position but I think that Nathan is right in what the artist is trying to depict. It's certainly more plausible than the idea that the rider is seated backwards.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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#10
I agree with Alan mostly. The knees, the sword clearly on the left.. the man is riding towards the right.

Only... the horse is facing the wrong way. Wink
It must be humor, or an artist so bad it's either a fake or something he would be executed for.
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#11
(07-23-2017, 09:11 PM)Alanus Wrote: Sorry to disagree with you on this one, Nathan.

(07-24-2017, 07:12 AM)Renatus Wrote: I'm with Nathan on this.

(07-24-2017, 03:26 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: I agree with Alan mostly.


This is like that blue dress / white dress thing! Perhaps we could turn it into a viral meme? [Image: tongue.png]


(On the other hand - what's this Amazon from Halicarnassus doing? Maybe backwards riding is a thing after all?)
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#12
I have added the detailed description from: Harper, Prudence and Meyers, Peters Silver Vessels of the Sasanian Period. Volume One: Royal Imagery.  The unusual sword position is mentioned but nothing about the unusual riding position.  The only dating is in a foot note: "4th century", other analysis in the paper is to place it in a group with others.

Druzhina
Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
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#13
(07-24-2017, 04:59 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: Maybe backwards riding is a thing after all?
Still - that does not explain the impossible position of the sword between horse and right thigh!
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#14
(07-24-2017, 04:59 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: what's this Amazon from Halicarnassus doing?

You can see her right thigh over the horse's back. Perhaps she is in the act of turning completely to deal with an assailant from the rear.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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#15
Michael,

Yes! The Amazon appears to be in the process of switching positions so she can ride backwards. Probably, she had been watching too many scenes from Clint Eastwood's Bronco Billy. Big Grin
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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