Thursday, February 22, 2018

Iskandar Nama - XVI century Persian lasso in action

Salvete omnes,
a little change of locus -
let us visit XVI century Persia via illuminations painted for the epic poem tittled  Iskandar Nama (Iskandar-namah, Eskander-nameh) that was written originally by a XII century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi.
As the tittle tells us this is an epic but very Persianized and Islamized (eg pilgrimage to Mecca)  story of Alexander III or the Great, in many ways the last ruler of the Achaemenid Persian empire, and a hero of many faces in the Persian and the larger heroic Islamic tradition.
Looking at the libre collection of pages from many different versions of Iskandar-namah, I decided to corral some images showing the use of lasso in combat context. Many writers writing within the context of Polish early modern history mention lasso and its use in combat, especially by the Tatars etc, but images are very few and far between.
We have to keep in mind that the Persian Safavid paintings were not particularly realistic, eg the essay written by the great Russian scholar Boris Marshak  in Pearless Images, yet these images may show some sort of reality  when using a lasso on the battlefield within the greater Eurasian milieu.
We see both mounted and dismounted attacks with lasso, used against mounted and dismounted or unhorsed foe.

Please note,
all  images above are just the details taken by me  from the illuminated pages collected on the Wiki Commons gallery

Saturday, February 17, 2018

His Royal Majesty Jan Sobieski & his eagle et Janina

Salvee Omnes,
I do love our Polish White Eagle, so to start this February weekend I would like to share with you
a quick post with some period iconography (corralled from wiki commons) -
 our king Jan III Sobieski, Janina coat of arms, and  our White Eagle bearing king's coat of arms and also Grand Duchy of Lithuania Pogon.



Friday, February 16, 2018

Emir Rzewuski et al

Salvete Omnes,
I am traveling in Andalucia, Spain, this is a  sort of spur of a moment trip. We visited the site of the battle of Fuengirola, one of the few amazing defeats of the British regiments during the Napoleonic Wars. The Polish infantry soldiers - 4th regiment from Duchy of Warsaw - vanquished the British and Spanish allies, against the overwhelming odds.

But my traveling allows for some reading and I have been studying a Ph. D. dissertation by Filip Kucera titled Waclaw Emir Rzewuski (1784-1831): podroznik i zolnierz (Waclaw Emir Rzewuski: traveller and soldier.) .
Dr Kucera submitted his dissertation in the University of Poznan History Institute in 2016. It can be had libre from the Poznan university repository.

It is a fine study, and very detailed, worth every moment of my time. Also, this dissertation one can  use as a gateway to many older works, memoirs, journals and historic works related to our Polish Bedouin and Arabian Horses. 
Nota bene Polish scholars and printmakers have been working on publishing the entire manuscript of count Rzewuski, in Polish and English (with Emir of Qatar help and assistance).

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Jost Amman - horse's care

Salvete Omnes,
quick jump to the XVI century German prints showing horse-related occupations and details.
Jost Amman & consortes -
wagon driver taking his four-horse team for a drink of water? or just showing off his skills

 in the image below the good servant of his master's retinue perhaps took out the horses to drink (note simple bridles) and returning to his camp grabbed a lamb from a field - being industrious and good at his craft

Farriery  at its trade bellow -
horse shoeing

administering medicine


Pacem Aeternam, Darek Senator

Salvete Omnes,
last night I learned that one of the most versatile and finest Polish reenactors and a good comrade died suddenly yesterday.
Pacem Aeternam, Darek (Dariusz) Senator!
thanks for all your help and good word, thanks for good camaraderie and spirit!
My deepest condolences to Darek's Family & Friends

photo from Facebook page @Arkadiusz Czartoryski

I was looking forward to see Darek at the August Historic Military Parade in Warsaw 2018.
Arsenal - Association of Polish Regiments and Companies 1717-1831 - put on their page this eulogy.

I salute You, Darek!
and see you on the other side, bro..

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Polish & Jewish together and separate - around latest hoopla

Salvete Omnes,
I have got this feeling today that I need to comment on the latest hoopla surrounding  the change  of Polish law in Poland [sic!] and the reception of this statutory amendment to the IPN law- link to the amendment.
 My translation of a section of the amended law:
  • Article 55a:
1.  One who publicly and against the facts imputes to the Polish Nation or to the Polish State responsibility or joint responsibility for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich, defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International MilitaryTribunal, Annex[...]major war criminals of the European Axis, signed in London on August 8, 1945 [ Dz. Ust. 1947], or for other offenses constituting crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or who in different manner blatantly reduces the responsibility of the actual perpetrators of said crimes, may be subject to a fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years. The judgment will be made public.
2. If a perpetrator of the act defined in subsection 1 acts unintentionally [he or she] will be subject to a fine or non-custodial sentence .
3. Perpetrator commits no prohibited act as defined in subsection 1 and 2 who has manifested the act as part of artistic or scholarly activity.
There is nothing sudden or new about this law- already in 2016 English-language media in the UK etc were reporting about these proposed changes, eg The Independent.  According to the official statement by the Polish President the Polish officials had been in discussion about this law with their Israeli counterparts since 2016.

It is about the Nazi German genocide, and to lesser extend about the Ukrainian crimes,  against all Polish citizens perpetrated during the World War Two and the Holocaust committed by the Nazi Germans within the pre-1939 Polish Republic's occupied (both Soviet and German) territories during the period of 1939-45. And it is about the invention of Polish culpability, including the invention of the term ''Polish concentration camps,'' by the former-Nazi officials in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1950-60s (part of the German historical policies and blame shifting).

For years media, be it  'fake news' creators and allegedly truthful news media outlets like New York Times et al. in the US, Canada or Australia had been writing about the  Nazi camps as 'Polish ones' and perpetrating the awful lie invented by the Gehlen people/BND - especially by  Alfred Benzinger and Dienststelle 114.

 Back in the 1990s and 2000s I used to call NYT or NY Daily News etc complaining about the lies stated in their biased articles, when writing about old or contemporary Poland, Polish society, Polish history and finally about the mythical and alleged Polish  antisemitism.
Mind you, my immediate ancestors participated in and saved Polish-Jewish  citizens by also hiding  two Polish-Jewish artisans from Lodz Ghetto during the WWII, and they, according to my Grandmother who hid these men in her barn, left for Israel and new life after 1947.
In 1940, I do not remember from my Grandmother's story what part of the year but must have been after April 1940, my Grandmother was beaten to unconsciousness by a Glowno Ghetto German guard for the offense of throwing loaves of bread over the ghetto fence to the ghetto inhabitants on the other side. She was only saved from being beaten to death by her friend, who was a Polish-German woman and her friend since the elementary school. As a consequence she had been unconscious for a week and sick for a month, with my Grandfather in a prison camp since September 1939 and my little father taken care by my Great Grandfather who was a widower.

ad rem, the law had been delayed too long and its final passage last week by the Polish Sejm (parliament ) and subsequent signing of it by Poland President this week will remedy some of this decades-old negligence and outright cowardice on the part of the Polish State as represented by her elected officials, diplomats and academics.
This new mindset displayed by the Polish Republic's  government, especially this novel approach to Polish historical policy,  has been brutally attacked, not criticized [sic!], by Israel and even criticized by US State Department.
The US critics of this law citing the freedom of speech, please note that even in the US freedom of speech is not unqualified, certain type of speech that is not protected under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, see hate crime statutes.
Nota bene Israel already has many laws  muzzling the expression of speech, eg the 2011 law punishing people or companies for calling for boycott of Israel, eg threat to punish the Amnesty International, New Zealand 2018 example.
How badly this law is needed can be seen in this article by Danusha Goska - it describes an unjust bias and prejudice against Poland, Polish descent and even Polish names in the US, yet then the author concludes that the law is a mistake - please read it carefully. [Do note that I completely disagree with the author's conclusion as to the new amendment to the IPN law being a mistake]

I just want to add here -
remember the Medieval  Statute of Kalisz ('Calisia' in Latin) passed into law by Piast duke Boleslaw Pobozny (the Pious) AD 1264, and adopted as the royal law for the entire Kingdom between AD 1334-62 ,  by last Piast king Kazimierz the Great and subsequent Polish rulers, thus these laws survived in effect until the passage of the May Constitution of AD 1791. Compare this and contrast with the English, Spanish, Portuguese, French or German Jewish histories of the same period.

and the beautiful art by Polish-Jewish artist Artur Szyk illuminating the XX century multilingual re-edition of this Polish Medieval  Statute.

so cui bono?
I hope the truth will ...
cavalryman and officer, rotmistrz Witold Pilecki is the hero of the quest for truth about the Nazi concentration camps, and Jan Kozielewski (better known under the nome de guerre as Jan Karski) comes in as second being the official Polish Government in Exile emissary to the Western, especially American government etc. Along with hundreds of thousands of Polish citizens who participated in this quest, and millions who suffered.
Unfortunately the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Museum found no room for the family of rotmistrz Pilecki in 2015, during the 70th anniversary of the liberation of this Nazi camp by the Soviet Red Army.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Gdansk - Dantiscum and Polish riders circa 1620

Salvete Omnes,
so we have started a new month in this still somewhat young 2018.
Circa AD 1620 the northwestern, maritime, parts of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were rather peaceful and one coastal town was then the finest city of the entire Crown of Kingdom of Poland.
 It had been known then either as Gdansk, or  Danzig or Dantiscum [Latin]. Populated mostly by German burghers who were rather very fine Polish Crown citizen, with a large native population of Polish minority known as Kaszubi [Kashubians], and many emigrants from all over Europe and a fine Cistercian monastery at Oliwa near by. Her ports full of vessels from all over Europe, as this one a city of trade and commerce and manufacturing.
Since her access to the Crown of Kingdom of Poland in 1452 Gdansk was the principal town of the Royal Prussia and the jewel of the Crown, but not without its thorns... however, the city citizens were the most faithful subjects of the Kingdom (except for their small but rather bloody rebellion against king Stefan Bathory - they were horribly slaughtered by the winged hussars at Lubieszow AD 1577) and kept their oaths for the remainder of  Old Poland enduring sieges and invasions by foreign forces, that is until the Prussian Crown betrayal of Polish allies and annexation of the city along with Polish lands in 1793 during the 2nd Partition of Poland.
Ad rem, In the early 1600s Gdansk was very prosperous and vibrant, with the Vistula River providing steady stream of agricultural fruits of the Polish interiors and noblemen coming to buy sumptuous goods produced there or brought in by the Dutch merchants (principally), great wealth was apparent and wealthy patrons abundant thus drawing many artists and artisans.  (libre book in Polish on the preserved drawings from Gdansk from the last quarter of XVI century and first half of XVII century)
One of such artists was Jan [Hans] Krieg, a native of Speicherdorf, now a part of Kalinigrad ( Krolewiec - Konigsberg) in Ducal Prussia, son of Mennonite emigrants from  Holland or Holy Roman Empire. Ducal Prussia was then part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth so he could move around rather freely, and thus upon his travels and education abroad he finally settled in Gdansk where he painted and drew, married and eventually converted to Catholicism, and after the death of his wife became a monk at the famous Cistercian monastery at Pelplin, a bit south of Gdansk, where he worked beautifying the abbey church and .. assuredly praying a bit. 
Nota bene both Oliwa and Pelplin monasteries suffered losses as to their libraries  during the Swedish Deluge, and their manuscript collections are in large part located in Sweden, and  later the Prussian kings finished the monsateries, for it was the enlightened Prussian Crown who abolished both abbeys and took their libraries and accumulated wealth for themselves during the Partitions of Poland.
Only thanks to the local Polish and Polish-Kashubian population and the Polish Catholic Church that the churches and some of the artwork survived and some of the treasures can be viewed when visiting the monasteries in present day Poland.
painting with the panoramic view of Gdansk

two Polish riders, perhaps one is a winged hussar officer - due to a mace in his right hand - and the second may be a winged hussar towarzysz (comrade) or officer's retainer. Footman is a local Danzig dandy, dressed aina western fashion but in Polish national colors ie. red, with another rider behind in the background on a grey horse. The longish but narrow red schabraque on the bay horse seems to be typical of the 1620-30s period as seen in other Polish paintings showing Polish military of this pre-1650s period.
 I am sure I  will have more images related to XVI-XVII century Gdansk.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Auriga - wagon driver from 1570s

Salvete Omnes,
 German Empire of the Holy German Empire was famous for many things in the XVI century, book publishing & print making being the most famous of all of them.
Costume Books were extremely popular, it seems, and some have been surviving in their full glory in the museums and library collections around Europe and other places.
One of these costume books is Habitus - produced by Hans Weigel from Nuremberg, then the 'mecca' of book and printmaking &  publishing in the Holy Empire and Christian Europe of XVI century.
French National Library on line or Gallica provides us the easy access to this magnificent volume. 
Auriga or a German carraige, wagon, basterna or cart 'driver' - tough character dressed for the task which was to drive a wagon pulled by a team of hitched horses while seated in a saddle astride one of the cart horses.
He is armed with what appear to be a 'langes messer 'or a 'long knife' (kord in Polish).
His long, leggings like-boots (perhaps going back to the Eurasian Scythian long boots-trousers ) are of interest.
whether walking along his horse team/s or riding astride they were in need to protect themselves from the cold and rain, and in the age of scarce & sparse means and rather very few belongings they would protect their regular pants from the elements and their mounts sides (be it muddy or dusty etc), and thus such leather boots must have been of great help and protection. Rooster's(?)  feathers adorn his sturdy hat.

Medieval driving - in this XV century example

Below some examples & details that come from the period iconography -  second half of the XVI century - showing wagon/carriage drivers driving their teams from the saddle

Holy Roman Empire - border town of Gorlitz/Zgorzelec - this is perhaps a freight wagon with a trader with his dog resting on top of his merchandise?

town  of Przemysl - Polish-Lithianian Commonwealth - driving what appears to be a 'kolaska' or light open carriage used by the gentry and well-to-do burghers for short trips to and from a town - be it church-going, shopping & business or sightseeing.

 a Low Countries wagon from 1589 not unlike later settlers' wagon in the Americas

European military and nobility relied on use of wagons and horse-drawn carriages to move and carry persons, supplies,

ever growing artillery parks needed drivers too;

and thus wagon drivers were to be found in every army and entourage of the period in rather large numbers.

detail of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting - various types of wagons and carts


Monday, January 29, 2018

Sassanian Military Books 'libre' from University of Siedlce

Salvete Omnes,
this January will be ending shortly
I have some links for you - via prof. Katarzyna Maksymiuk's page on academia.

- Geography of Roman-Iranian wars. Military operations of Rome and Sasanian Iran, Siedlce - 2015

- Crowns, hats, turbans and helmets The headgear in Iranian history volume I: Pre-Islamic Period
Edited by Katarzyna Maksymiuk & Gholamreza Karamian, Siedlce-Teheran 2017
excellent collection of scholarly articles, from the conference that took place at the University in the Fall of 2016

A Synopsis of Sasanian Military Organization and Combat Units, Siedlce-Tehran 2018 - authored by Kaveh Farrokh, Gholamreza Karamian & Katarzyna Maksymiuk,

prof. Jordan Peterson's lecture on personal growth  - I enjoy prof. Peterson's lectures, debates and blog.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Edwin Henry Landseer - Arabian horses

Salvete Omnes,
just three good morning images -  oil on canvas paintings by the preeminent British animalist Edwin Henry Landseer - beautiful Arabians, the pride of the Bedouins and noble stables in the XIX century Europe .
Nota bene Polish nobleman and scion of the Polish Borderlands family  Waclaw Rzewuski, Krzywda Coat of Arms,  made his famous and fabled first trip to the Bedouin tribal breeders in  1810s, on behalf of the Russian Tsar Alexander I and other royal patrons,  and brought back finest quality Arabians from the desert upon his return. Eventually he owned almost more than 80 Arabian blood mares, more than any other private breeder in Europe at that time.

Arab mare inside the tent

Stalion Selim


Monday, January 22, 2018

Carl Goebel - watercolors

Salvete omnes,

Carl Goebel - Viennese Austrian painter, watercolorist, who depicted genre scenes of the XIX century Europe, especially of the Austrian empire (remember that since 1849 it became Austria-Hungarian Empire).
Below it is Belgrade in the XIX century, true that there are very few horses visible, but the colorful scenery and human types are present, giving this capital of Serbia a very Near Eastern character (more than 400 years of the Ottoman domination would have done it).
I have been to Belgrade a few times, great city.
 A peasant stable with a peasant horse and its working tack
 Carriage horses getting a break with a grey getting a new set of shoes
Smithy in the winter
 The nomads of XIX century Central and Eastern Europe - the Gypsy (today it is used more politically correct their own name  Roma or Romani , which is kind of strange, since e.g. in the English speaking world they use  names like Poles or Polish for the Polish people, instead of using our own name Polacy/Polki - :) , nota bene I love the old name they used for us - Polonians, just lovely) - one of their traditional occupations was trade in horses, but also the art of horse stealing and illicit trade across the international borders.
In the Polish legal history annals there are tons of stories about Gypsy banditry, thievery and mischief, but we also have a saying <kowal zawinil cygana powiesili> Blacksmith committed a crime but they hung the Gypsy; a little proverb about the scapegoat who was sacrificed for the sins of others . Nota bene love this saying by Mark Twain - There are many scapegoats for our sins, but the most popular is providence.

fortune telling was another Gypsy 'occupation' and quite popular with the gentry, peasantry or town folks. I enjoy the look on the boy's face as he looks lovingly at the horse he holds for the two ladies that came for some divination and magic..

 Sables with some Oriental looking horses
 In Poland 'cyganska muzyka,'   Gypsy music and song, is popular, and some of the artists hold national acclaim and popularity.

and back to less exotic XIX century Europe, just this little delightful rendering of an Alpine water mill, with women doing laundry in the creek

one of my most favorite films of all time - Табор уходит в небо or Gypsy wagon camp escapes to Heaven -   (release title in English is odd, isn't it? - Gypsies Are Found Near Heaven  )  it is about the Gypsy passion for horses, women, music (eg Евгений Дога - Яблоко (Табор Уходит В Небо) - look for it on youtube) and love.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Alfred de Dreux - Oriental horses

Salvete Omnes,
Sunday morning and here we can enjoy some wonderful XIX century paintings where the horse is the very subject, sort of in the tradition of Carl Vernet and Theodore Gerricault .

Master-painter, from Fra nce,  Alfred de Dreux's works are for the first time presented separately on my blog; sadly, the prolific author died in his prime, depraving the world of his talented brushwork.
So here we will look at some of his oli on canvas works showing Oriental, North African horses - be it Arabians or Barbs.
Below, clearly an Oriental bay stallion, with two grey stallions in the back of the pasture - European setting.
and two paintings that show the same Arabian? bay horse and his owner? groom?

clearly the same horse and and this time clearly a groom in this painting, for it is titled Horses of Abd el Kader, and emir  Abd el Kader was the famous religious and military leader of the  Muslim resistance against the French invasion of Algeria in the first half of the XIX century.
So perhaps the black man in the other paintings is the groom of emir's horses. Presumably this Hassan was taken as a slave, perhaps in Sudan or Niger etc. Note that Abd el Kader was taken with the ruler of Egypt, famous Albanian Mamluk warrior Muhammad Ali, and perhaps this Algerian emir had some Egyptian Arabs in his stables, as the grey horse is clearly an Arabian stallion.

An African groon with a blood horse on the beach - Arabian or Barb steed.

and a Sudanese groom  mounted on the white Arabian? stallion

Enjoy the beautiful brushowork of this talented Parisian artist.