Saturday 7 March 2020

Refurbishing the Arab Collection

The Task
Several years ago, the Dark Age project was expanded to include a number of Muslim armies, Fatamid, Bagdad Buyid, North African to name a few. In my enthusiasm I painted ten in quick tempo and looking back at recent photos decided to re-do them with a bit more care.

As we play more double size commands, I decided to consolidate the Muslim collection as the principle enemies of the Nikephorian Byzantine, the Fatamid, Dynastic Bedouin and the Iqshidid Egyptian. 

Clothing would be given a dark base colour and highlighted in a lighter shade, dark blue – light blue, dark green – light green and so on. The turbans, painted with a bit more care, have more folds, the clothing colours have better eye appeal as do the archers. Colour schemes and banners set apart the three main adversaries and this is explained below.

The Fatamid
Clothing - All turbans have a colour which is also found as a topcoat for another miniature and these are red, blue, and two shades of brown. The same colour selection is used for the shields with a few painted with a horizontal bar painted in an off white or cream.

Banners – From D. Nicolle’s Medieval Warfare Source Book, volume II, the Fatamid had green and yellow flags in a variety of size and shapes. Further searching I found it was not uncommon to have quotations from the Koran painted on the banner. Inscription will be done in gold or white.

Second on the list are the Dynastic Bedouin, specifically, the Emirate of Aleppo. These took less time to paint and were a joy to do.

The Dynastic Bedouin
Clothing – These differed somewhat from the Fatamid; turbans would be mostly white with a few tan coloured in between, Topcoats had fewer brown, but more red, blue and purple. I reasoned the brighter colours would be prevalent among the settled inhabitants. This also can be seen among the shield colours.

Banners – These would be of similar size and shape but basic colour would be an off-white or cream. A dark vertical bar would have text painted is silver or white. Kurdish allies would have similar flags, but painted red.

Useful Sources
Armies of the Dark Ages 600 – 1066, Ian Heath, 1980
Medieval Warfare Source Book, David Nicolle, 1986
Saracenic Heraldry, Leo Aryeh Mayer, 1933

The Tulunid/Iqshidid Egyptian (29-03-2020)

The Tulunid/Iqshidid are next in the queue. Photo one is an overview of the elements collected for this army. All the infantry will be rebased to improve the distribution of poses among the blade and bow. Infantry on the left of the photo will have their javelins replaced with spears. At their rear are two elements of cavalry which will form three light horse leaving the Ghulam cavalry the only elements untouched.

Photo two displays the ravages of bases lost with the figures now repositioned on their new bases. Next step is to replace javelin with spear.  

Clothing – Having rebelled against the Abbasid Caliphate, I had doubts about using black for their clothing and as a minor concession, the turbans would be painted mostly dark colours with a few in white. Topcoats would follow a similar palette as the Fatamid, red, blue and two shades of brown.

Banners – Most likely banners would have remained unchanged from the Abbasid model and colour. Therefore, banners are black with some colour sections and/or tails with gold lettering. If not accurate at least they would look cool.

The Egyptians in battle array

Compare the older paint work in this old battle report between the Tulunid Egyptian and the Abbasid.

The Abbasid (07-04-2020)

These complete the refurbishing project. I have lost count of all the turbans I have painted, but the experience was well worth the time. The early figures used as Zanj found their way to one of the three armies and new ones were needed as both ‘a’ and ‘b’ sublist of the Abbasid require them. 

The new Zanj blade are Fuzzy Wuzzy from the Old Glory colonial range. Hair was cut down and filed as were their shields. With small amounts of Milliput I attempted to fashion skull caps which did not work well, but other head gear did and some have dreadlocks. I am pleased with the result and also for the fact that this took one week to complete.

Clothing – Turbans remained black, but topcoats are painted in various shades of red from their original black. The colour may not have been historical but they would look very smart. The same colour scheme was used for the mercenaries and skirmishing troops as well. Mounted units had very little clothing to see as they were covered in chainmail, vambraces and metal leg protection. 

Banners – New flags were made. These remained black, but I added an additional colour to give an accent to the banner. Those for the infantry are a standard shape and large triangular banners were made for the Ghulam cavalry. 

Latest additions 30-09-2021

Nine elements representing the city militias and freebooters have been added to the collection. The figures are a mix of Old Glory Arab and Sudanese Ansar from their colonial range plus a few Essex. The ‘solid’ horde are now on larger bases, 40mm x 40mm, with an additional number of figures. This greatly improves their appearance and some armies, such as the Syrian IV/6c, have both types.