The devil’s horsemen.

For the Parthians shot as they fled, being, indeed, more adept at this than anyone except the Scythians, and it is certainly a very clever manoeuvre – to fight and to look after one’s own safety at the same time.  
Plutarch, Life of Crassus

There is not a person in the whole nation who cannot remain on his horse day and night.
Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae

Also girls and women ride. We saw also them to carry bows and quivers.
Giovanni da Pian del Carmine, Ystoria mongalorum
By nature the Mongols are good at riding and shooting. Therefore they took possession of the world through this advantage of bow and horse.
Anonymous Chinese chronicler

When they appear with an overwhelming attack, they disappear with the same rapidity. First they simulate flight then, turning their horses, they attack, but all these time they shoot arrows.
Johannes Aventinus, Annalium Boiorum

While Genghis Khan was holding an assembly of Mongolian dignitaries… Yesunge shot a target at 335 ald
Stone inscription found at Nerchinsk, Russia

On horseback they buy and sell, they take their meat and drink, and there they recline on the narrow neck of their steed, and yield to sleep so deep as to indulge in every variety of dream.
Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae

All Tartars are skilled archers.
Giovanni da Pian del Carmine, Ystoria mongalorum

You would not hesitate to call them the most terrible of all warriors, because they fight from a distance with missiles.
Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae
We watched a parade of horseback archers gallop past us, throwing three, sometimes four, arrows within ten seconds. As I fumbled with my camera, trying to capture them, or at least to do them justice, I thought about what to write. I thought about the noise of the rushing horses, the cheers of the crowd, the whirring sounds of the arrows. Then I realised that it’d all been said before. All these horsemen’s ancestors – Mongols, Huns, Magyars, Parthians, Scythians – had already been described before; sometimes unjustly, sometimes scathingly, only rarely with accuracy. But always with the deep respect used for fiery animals of prey, for unforgiving mountains or stormy seas, because these were people that instilled awe in those city-dwelling civilisations that crossed their path.
They still do.
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14 Responses to The devil’s horsemen.

  1. Fabulous photos. I think the one of the woman is my fave. And I really enjoyed all the words from ancient times. Clearly these people were/are incredibly skilled at what they do. I must get to this festival one day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Hi Alison, thanks for reading and commenting. We were lucky to see the ladies practicing, for that day it was only a men’s competition, which was a shame. There were a couple of women archers who were some serious shots. The Kazakhs in particular.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bama says:

    Of all battle skills astride a horse, archery is the one I’m most impressed of — and if I could I would love to learn it. There’s something fierce yet elegant in the manner those archers shoot at their target. It’s amazing that thousands of years after those observations were written, nothing has really changed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave Ply says:

    I’d feel good about myself if I could ride a horse at gallop with any degree of elegance. I’d be impressed if I could hit a target with a basic recurve bow while standing flat-footed. But to combine them, and get off three shots in 10 seconds? That’s just crazy. Must have been something to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      It was indeed, Dave, and apologies for being late in replying. What was even more incredible was how swift, accurate and, seemingly, easy they made it all look. Then think that the Huns, Mongols etc etc did it by the thousands!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lignum Draco says:

    The real “Men of Rohan”. You’ve captured the dynamic movements very well. I know how hard these are to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. equinoxio21 says:

    A very interesting post Fabrizzio. Now, Parthians and Scythians? Wow. I thought they were all but forgotten. (Except by readers of Alix)
    And think that stirrups were not invented until the early middle ages… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. J.D. Riso says:

    Incredible photos. They give me chills. Wonderful to know this art is still very much alive.


  7. Pingback: Uzbek football, Korean streets and the Games. A 2018 wrap-up. | Are we there yet?

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