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"Old and Middle Kingdom Egyptian Standard andMule Colors" Topic

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goragrad20 Oct 2018 2:20 p.m. PST

So, the Stillman and Tallis Armies of the Ancient Near East notes that Egyptian standards were painted, but doesn't note any colors. Any other reference that does?

And is there any reference as to whether the Pharaoh's mule was a particular color? Some cultures assigned significance to the colors of their monarch's mount and I would prefer to use the correct color if one is known.

Cacique Caribe20 Oct 2018 2:29 p.m. PST


Are there any murals or other paintings of pharaohs on mules from OK or MK times?

In the absence of such evidence, would the significance* of the color have changed that much for pharaohs, from when it was a mule to when it was a team of horses?



* Before I chanced upon this thread my guess would have been a white mule, but I'm not aware of many literary references to white mounts as being particularly significant before the time of the Achaemenids. Then again, horses were a big issue for them (Medes and Persians), and so they might have developed quite a lore on the subject, perhaps the way that equine bloodlines and such are important to many Arabs even today.

Cacique Caribe20 Oct 2018 2:59 p.m. PST

Hmm. Maybe reddish brown was a rare color for mules back then, and that's why later pharaohs where shown riding chariots with reddish horses.


(Ostracon, Deir el Medina)

Was the color of the king's mule an important matter for Sumerians? If so, that might have been the norm back then throughout the entire Fertile Crescent at that time, from Egypt to Lower Mesopotamia.



Just throwing out ideas.


nnascati Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2018 5:17 p.m. PST

I may be wrong,but I believe onagers were essentially all the same color.

Cacique Caribe20 Oct 2018 6:58 p.m. PST

More or less, but not entirely uniform:


So the birth of a rare variant would certainly be seen as a sign of some sort.


goragrad21 Oct 2018 1:20 a.m. PST

Well CC, white was a sacred color in OMK Egypt.

On Fanticus Timurilank felt this would then be reserved for the priestly class. He used a cream color for his mule.

That red-brown idea is of interest. Per the WRG Armies of the Ancient Near East red ostrich plumes were a badge of the hereditary warrior class. Of course red was also the color of chaos and life (interesting dichotomy…). And the color of Lower Egypt.

P.S. As to white mounts prior to the Achaemenids, only after including a couple in my DBA Scythian army did I get a look at my Osprey noting that the Scyths considered white horses unlucky and killed them at birth.

Erzherzog Johann01 Nov 2018 5:12 p.m. PST

Goragrad wrote:

"As to white mounts prior to the Achaemenids, only after including a couple in my DBA Scythian army did I get a look at my Osprey noting that the Scyths considered white horses unlucky and killed them at birth."

Bear in mind though that most "white" horses aren't really whites at all. They're born pigmented in various shades and fade through grey at a faster or slower rate until some end up essentially pure white after a few years. That's clearly what happened with yours, meaning that they survived the cull at birth, only becoming white after they'd proved themselves to the owner and clan.

Or do those elements roll a lot of 1s . . .


Erzherzog Johann01 Nov 2018 5:37 p.m. PST

According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia link (Probably fine in our case – this isn't exactly a controversy like the Arab-Israeli conflict), "[t]he coats of mules come in the same varieties as those of horses. Common colors are sorrel, bay, black, and grey. Less common are white, roans, palomino, dun, and buckskin. Least common are paint mules or tobianos."

Interestingly the photo of the 5th Century mule shaped rhyton on the page linked above appears to represent a dun-coloured mule, as did another that I quickly googled when checking what a rhyton was . . .

I would say go with a colour range similar to that which is correct for the horses of your army. Most Egyptian chariot horses from the New Kingdom era seem to be depicted as chestnuts; the second horse is sometimes depicted darker but this could be an attempt to create shadow or depth. The Hittite horses seem to be depicted as a mixture of chestnuts and duns, although I'd imagine there would be bays too in both regions. Chances are then that most OK/MK mules would be chestnut IMO.


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