Author Topic: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen  (Read 346 times)

Duncan Head

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Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« on: June 11, 2018, 01:48:57 PM »
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Andreas Johansson

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 02:42:36 PM »
So, how's up for sculpting Hephthalites with 2-4 men per horse? :)
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 08:16:57 PM »
The sculptures are intriguing, as they suggest a breed of horse capable of carrying multiple riders (whereas our standard image of nomads tends to be multiple horses per warrior).  If they are an accurate representation of the number of men per mount, they also raise questions about the intensity of mounted archery output on specific unit frontages.

And then there is the question of saddle design ...

I suppose the question is whether they are depicting reality or just reflecting a visual impression gained from glimpsing a massed mounted Hepthalite force.
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Duncan Head

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 10:44:09 PM »
There's a description of these statues at https://scfh.ru/en/papers/riders-lost-in-the-himalayas/ which adds quite a lot of context. In particular some discussion of the weapons, and:
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The absence of saddles and stirrups on the horse statues does not suggest that this ethnicity did not actually have them, the same as three of four riders on one horse does not mean that this was a common way to travel. Looking at these depictions, we should realize that these are mythical characters, though made after real-life prototypes.
and
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These long stuck-out tongues of the Himalayan stone horses is a trait indicating their magical nature. Apparently, these are not ordinary horses but supernatural beings connecting the worlds of the living and dead; they know the way to paradise and are taking their riders there

For some reason I am reminded of Sleipnir's eight legs.
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evilgong

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2018, 01:24:41 AM »
When I saw these a while back I though the 'long tongues' might represent fire-breathing horses.

A number of ancient cultures seemed intrigued with fire-breathing animals.

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Ade G

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2018, 06:01:15 PM »


For some reason I am reminded of Sleipnir's eight legs.

Off-topic comment but my reading is that Sleipnir represents the 8 legs of 4 men bearing a corpse being ridden to Death, Odhinn being a psychopomp
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2018, 06:40:31 PM »
From the article Duncan linked:

There is a hypothesis that the last part of the name of the Hephthalite ruler Mihirakula, “gula,” meant a certain rank of a “ruler-warrior.” This word must have given name to the Gulot dynasty, whose representatives currently govern Udaipur, the capital of the large province of Mewar, Rajasthan (Uspenskaya, 2000). The settlement located near the site where the horse statues are found is called Gool, which might derive from the name of the Hephthalite tsar-warrior.

In the 1920s and '30s, RAF airmen flying over that area were given what were called 'Goolie chits', doubtless another reference to the influence of the dynasty. ;)
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Duncan Head

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 09:08:21 AM »
To be honest, I'm not sure how secure the Hephthalite date is. One commenter on Chalat Musafir's blog, which is the source of some of the pictures, reckons they're 12th-15th century (though doesn't say why).

And some other possibly-Hephthalite representations show hair in braids like the early Turks, which does not seem to be the case with the Gool statues.
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Erpingham

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 09:33:53 AM »
Looking at them again, I note that the last picture shows the horse in lamellar armour, though the riders appear to be the usual unarmoured horse-archer types.
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Duncan Head

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2018, 09:46:17 AM »
Some of the riders - notably the first picture at http://warfare.ga/Ancient/Hephthalite-Gool_horsemen.htm?i=1 - are clearly in lamellar armour themselves. Which makes it even odder that the men on the most clearly armoured horse lack armour - if indeed they do, I am not so sure whether the rear rider could be meant to show armoured skirts.
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2018, 07:34:47 PM »
The one solid 'fact' the original article mentions about ethnicity is the resemblance between the features of the statues and those of the present-day population.  Local legend might cast a glimmer of light on the present day population's origins, and interested researchers could attempt the minefield of DNA testing to establish what other populations the local population might genetically resemble.
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Dangun

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2018, 10:43:47 PM »
The dating by similarity of head shape seems very week.
You could just as easily point out the obvious differences between the coins and statues.

Patrick Waterson

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2018, 08:20:49 AM »
The dating by similarity of head shape seems very week.

Certainly. In the complete absence of reliable information, anything goes - provided it has a trace of plausibility.

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You could just as easily point out the obvious differences between the coins and statues.

Which can kill the theory if differences are emphasised, but be dismissed as irrelevant if the similarities are accepted. ("There were some changes over time but the basic features remained the same.")

To be honest, I'm not sure how secure the Hephthalite date is. One commenter on Chalat Musafir's blog, which is the source of some of the pictures, reckons they're 12th-15th century (though doesn't say why).

That would presumably be Dr Lalit Gupta, who sees, or thinks he sees, similarity to 'Hittite' art, and thus imposes 'Hittite Empire' dates.  (His deduction that the statues "may be Turkish origin" is priceless.)
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rodge

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2018, 11:40:49 AM »
Has anyone seen anything more on the Hepthalites other than ‘The Hephthalites: Archaeological and Historical Analysis’ a doctoral thesis by Aydogdy Kurbarnov, Free University Berlin, and ‘The Hepthalite Empire’ by B. A. Litvinsky?
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Duncan Head

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Re: Statues of Hephthalite horsemen
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2018, 12:00:11 PM »
Enoki, "On the Nationality of the Hephthalites" at http://www.bulgari-istoria-2010.com/booksBG/K_Enoki_Ephtalites_English_text[1].pdf
(The whole thing including the "[1].pdf" is the link. Does anyone know if there's an escape sequence for square brackets in hyperlinks in this editor?)

De la Vaissiere, Is there a Nationality of the Hephthalites?

Kagayama, Change of suspension systems of daggers and swords in eastern Eurasia: Its relation to the Hephthalite occupation of Central Asia

Plenty of stuff online about their coins, of which this site about an exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna is perhaps the best - the Toramana lion-hunt coin on this page is a nice depiction of Indo-Hephthalite weapons in use.
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