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"Gaulois tattoos? " Topic

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French Wargame Holidays30 Oct 2018 2:25 p.m. PST

About to start my Gaulois army for the western tribes during Caesars invasion of Gaul.

I have found no reference to tattooed warriors of the western tribes of the Carnutes, Aulerques and Venetes.

The only solid reference to tattoos I have is the Gaesatae tribe, in 225BC.

So thoughts gentlemen, do I paint tattoos or not on my warriors.

I have purchased the vitrix warriors sets, naked warriors, warriors and cavalry. Very nice figures so far, should be posting on the weekend.

Herce Salon de Guerre

Aethelflaeda was framed31 Oct 2018 5:08 a.m. PST

Paint them because it looks so cool. It will impress the camp follower figures after you win your game.

axabrax31 Oct 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

I would do it. Will make the figures stand out and look ferocious! Either that or if you are playing a system that has some units as fanatics or ferocious do those units with tats.

Bellbottom31 Oct 2018 9:48 a.m. PST

Check these out

Dagwood31 Oct 2018 11:37 a.m. PST

I did a few with. Most without. And these were the fanatics!

I used blue and blue-green fineliner pens, rather than a paintbrush, though.

Damion31 Oct 2018 8:03 p.m. PST

Don't know what the solid link to the Gaesatae is as they only appear in regards the battles of Telamon (225) and Clastidium (222). Neither battle mentions tattoos and they probably only fought naked at Telamon. At Clastidium they seem to have been mostly cavalry and were wearing armour.

The earliest reference to any kind of skin colouring is Caesar when he mentions the Britons dying themselves before battle. He never mentions the Gauls doing the same thing so it should be seen as something peculiar to the Britons.

There is a similar claim made of a German group called the Harii. It's not mentioned what colour they used but they did use black shields and fought at night.

There are a couple of Gallic artifacts that show what could be designs on people. One is a type of coin found on the island of Jersey from around the first century BC.

The other is a bronze plaque that decorated a chariot from the 4th century BC showing the decorated body of a woman.

If people want to be decorative and "woad up" their minis go for it but there is little to suggest it was done by the original Gauls.

Erzherzog Johann01 Nov 2018 2:23 a.m. PST

I had a discussion a couple of years ago (November 2016 in fact!) with Duncan Head about Clastidium and the Gaesati. It's his opinion that Plutarch, whose description is the most detailed, is also likely to be the most unreliable, that the "Gaesati" king in his armour is probably in fact the Insubre king Viridomarus.

Certainly we both agreed that there is no evidence in any of the sources to suggest that the Gaesati, or any other Gauls, were noted as being tattooed, or, indeed, fighting naked, as the Gaesati are recorded to have done three years earlier at Telamon – perhaps they'd learned from their previous experience …


Damion01 Nov 2018 2:55 a.m. PST

Thanks for the reply John. That passage is ambiguous but in relation to armour, Viridomarus was claimed to be in possession of the best suit of armour amongst all the Celts present. That suggests they weren't naked. The naked ones at Telamon were on foot too whereas these ones were mounted.

The other tidbit was that the armour was described as decorated with gold and silver and embroidered. I take this to mean that it was some kind of cloth armour like the linothorax or perhaps leather.

Erzherzog Johann01 Nov 2018 1:02 p.m. PST

Agreed Damion, I think the evidence is tenuous at best.

Plutarch's reference to the armour is:
"His stature exceeded that of the other Gauls, and he was conspicuous for a suit of armour which was set off with gold and silver and bright colours and all sorts of broideries; it gleamed like lightning. . ."
So he certainly had the most bling on his armour :-)

I think it extremely unlikely that the Gaesati painted or tattooed their bodies as Polybius would almost certainly have made reference to that in the context of them stripping off their clothes to fight at Telamon. Describing them as naked, yet ignoring all the "savage" body painting that would have been revealed seems highly improbable.

So as Celts go, the body decoration is probably restricted to the various inhabitants of Great Britain for whom we have evidence of woad body painting, which probably means Ancient British and Picts.


Dagwood02 Nov 2018 9:45 a.m. PST

Some of my Gaesati had travelled all the way from Britain !

Damion02 Nov 2018 1:17 p.m. PST

I have my doubts about the Britons too, at least the southern ones, but… I'll be getting that Warlord Games chariot with the pole surfing driver and chief with arms outstretched soon and the driver will be painted like the tattooed guy from McBride's painting. It's just such a great scene.

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