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"Sassanian riding a horse, facing backwards" Topic

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Action Log

21 Jul 2017 5:43 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Sassanian riding a horse facing backwards" to "Sassanian riding a horse, facing backwards"

1,043 hits since 21 Jul 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Druzhina21 Jul 2017 5:37 p.m. PST

Moya Catherine Carey uses a silver-gilt plate (Sasanian period) Iran Bastan Museum 1275, Tehran, for the typical costume on Sasanian royal hunting plates:

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:

Turushev plate, A Sasanian King Hunting Lions, 310-320 CE, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Hormizd plate, A Sasanian King Hunting Lions, 5th-6th Century, The Cleveland Museum of Art 1962.150

Ufa plate, Sasanian King Hunting Mountain Sheep, 1st half 7th century, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

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

Plates with figures from Persia and Central Asia

Great War Ace Inactive Member21 Jul 2017 7:43 p.m. PST

I suspect this is an artist error. Any other pieces showing backwards riders?

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2017 8:24 p.m. PST

This may be an attempt by the artist to show the writer shooting sideways.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2017 11:03 p.m. PST

None of them are sitting backwards. Look st the legs, paryehete the toes are painting.
It's an artistic rendering of the "Parthian shot".

bsrlee22 Jul 2017 1:32 a.m. PST

This was explored in the Archer Antiquary community 30+ years ago. Note that the figure on the plate is NOT using stirrups. When turning in the saddle without stirrups it is easy to do – easier than then using stirrups – you rise off the saddle a bit pressing your thighs together as you turn and you can get to a position where one leg is reversed, just as pictured on the plate.

bilsonius22 Jul 2017 8:23 p.m. PST

FWIW, the only ancient illustration of a backward mounted rider I can think of is the Assyrian relief of pillion-mounted Arab camel riders, where one of the "rear gunners" is definitely sitting "with his back to the engine…"

Great War Ace Inactive Member22 Jul 2017 9:30 p.m. PST

I looked at it closer. Undoubtedly, the leg is cocked backwards, is all, as explained above.

In the Bayeux Tapestry, Guy of Ponthieu is similarly pictured as he points back over his horse's rump at Harold Godwinson.


Druzhina23 Jul 2017 6:20 p.m. PST

Guy of Ponthieu has his foot pointing back a little past 90degress, but his knee seems to be lifted very high to allow this. Bastan Museum 1275 has his knee and foot much further around without lifting his knee. The tail of his robe is also backwards compared to others.

Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

uglyfatbloke26 Jul 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

I always felt there was something wrong with my approach to riding….

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