Friday, August 19, 2011

Rajput Cavalry Part 2

Rajput armies consisted predominantly of cavalry.Firearms were not common, swords and lances being considered honourable weapons.

Here are some pictures of Rajput horses and rider for painting ideas...

Rajah hunting with wives
Artwork regularly show Rajput horses with the legs and/ or lower half of the body painted red. Why? Well that I haven't been able to establish and museums and art experts I have emailed have no idea either. If anyone knows please let me know. It does seem to be limited to the upper level of Rajput society and mostly to white and piebald horses. On darker horses it seems never to be above the knees.The majority of the artwork showing this also comes from the Rajput States of Mewar, Bundi, Deogarh, Kishangarh and Mawar, although I have also seen one illustration from Bengal with the lower legs painted red.

A mural at the fort at Bundi have approximately 30 mounted figures depicted. One is the Raja who has his horse decorated. Only 2 others are on painted horses and they seem to lead a unit of horsemen each.

It would also seem that the paint is a sandalwood paste - something usually offered to the Gods. If that is the case then it probably has something to do with the Rajput worship of their horses. A common saying was that if God had not made the horse he would not have made the Rajput.

Rajah hunting

A God with horse

The following two pictures date to c.1765 and were commissioned by Rana Ari Singh II (d.1771). It appears to be the same rider, although this is probably not the Rana. The horses are named, along with the dates of acquisition. The rider is not named so is probably a servant.

One of the earliest pictures depicting the red paint c.1737
Rajput horses were renowned for their quality. The most common types were the Mawari and Kathiawari, descended from Arabian stock. And of course, they weren't all painted red!

When faced with probably death the Rajputs would wear yellow robes. If a battle went against they could  dismount and fight to the last man. Equally, however, they could just ride off... 

In the poem Kanhadade-Prabandh, written by Padmanabh c.1455, there is a description of a battle between Allaudin Khalji and Rajah Kanhadade (fought c.1298). In it Rajput warriors are described as follows:

They bathed the horses in the sacred water of Ganga. Then they offered them Kamal Puja (prayer). On their backs they put with sandal the impressions of their hands... They put over them five types of armour, namely, war armour, saddles acting as armour, armour in the form of plates, steel armour, and armour woven out of cotton. Now what was the type of Kshatriyas (warrior) who rode these horses? Those, who were above twenty-five and less than fifty in age,... shot arrows with speed and were the most heroic. (Their) moustaches went up to their ears, and beards reached the navel. They were liberal and warlike. Their thoughts were good ... They regarded wives of others as their sisters. They stood firm in battle, and struck after first challenging the enemy. They died after having killed first. They donned and used (all the) sixty-six weapons. If any one (of the enemy ranks) fell down they regarded the fallen person as a corpse and saluted it.

Sandal is a fragrant wood associated with worship of the Gods. It is also distributed as a paste to devotees, who apply it to the head, neck and chest. Preparation of the paste is a duty fit only for the pure, and is therefore entrusted in temples and during ceremonies to priests.Sometimes it is mixed with saffron and other pigments.

Sandalwood paste

Sandalwood powder
Red sandalwood

Coat of 10,000 nails - named after the number of studs on it

Royal Armouries example

Coat of 10,000 nails
Anyway, enough! The post is long enough already!



  1. Just came to your blog via Der Altefritz's blog and really liking the look of these figures! I was just wondering how they compare in size/proportion with RSM/Minden miniatures?

    And more important, when will they be available! :)

    All the best


  2. Hi Andy,

    DAF seems to like the proportions, but I can't say whether they match Miden or RSM!

    Hopefully they will be available from Eureka in a month or so.