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Daylamī by David Nicolle
extracts from The military technology of classical Islam
with links to images of the sources referenced.

107 In the ādab al Ḥarb the zūpīn was considered similar to the Shīl.135 It was likewise barbed or had a sharply angled blade136 and was normally mentioned in the hands of foot soldiers. Like many other javelins, however, the zūpīn, or in this particular case zhūbīn, is also mentioned as a horseman's weapon, light enough to be played with as part of a fantasia.137 Many illustrations
135. Mubārakshāh, op. cit., p. 260.
136. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids, p. 111; Bosworth, "Recruitment, Muster and Review in Medieval Islamic Armies." p. 60; Firdawsī, op, cit., p. 694.
137. Ibn al Qalānisī, op. cit., p. 14.

108 of infantry weapons show such multi-angled blades (see Types J and O under Typological Forms, Fig. 674). Most stem from areas in which Daylamī mercenaries served, or which may have shared a common military heritage with the Daylamī heartland (Figs. 45, 75, 157, 158, 196, 209, 297, 304 and 306). The zūpīn, as the national weapon of the Elburz Mountains, also had a ceremonial function among the Daylamī inhabitants of this region,138 and as such was comparable to the Arab harbah and ʿanazah in the capitals of the Caliphate.
138. Bosworth, "Military Organization under the Būyids of Persia and Iraq." p. 149.

230 Large round turs shields seem to have been employed by the renowned infantry of Daylam before they adopted longer, kite-shaped shields or mantlets7 and, like these later styles, the Daylamī turs was even then in the 10th century carried into battle by a younger shield-bearer.8 Perhaps these were the large shields of Gīlān, a province neighbouring Daylam, that were mentioned in the early 11th century Shāhnāmah.9
7. Minorsky, Studies in Caucasian History, p. 113; Miskawaihī, op. cit., vol.II, pp. 152-153.
8. Miskawaihī, loc. cit.
9. Firdawsī, op. cit. p. 1280.

Kite-shaped Shield
238 Unfortunately, the term tāriqah appeared at about the same time as the European kite-shaped shield, and while some authorities consider the French term targe to be a corruption of tāriqah,43 others believe exactly the reverse.44 On the other hand, it is reasonably certain that the tāriqah shield of Fāṭimid Egypt was an infantry protection, to be used by Daylami infantry and younger warriors as shield-bearers.45 Equally clearly the tāriqah generally
43. Prawer, op. cit., p. 522.
44. White, op. cit., pp. 99-100.
45. Beshir, op. cit., p. 74.

239 remained an infantry shield in Ayyūbid Egypt and Syria, despite supposed Crusader influence.46 Nevertheless, it was associated by Muslim authors more with their various Christian foes than with their own troops.47
         In the east such kite-shaped shields were probably known as "lute-shaped" sipar-i shūshak shields.48
46. Al Harawī, loc. cit., Mayor, Mamluk Costume, pp. 36-46; al Ansarī, op. cit., p. 107; Cohen, "Un Traité d'armurerio composé pour Saladin," p. 155.
47. Bahā al Dīnq, op. cit., pp. 111 and 225; ʿImād al Dīn, op. cit., pp. 106, 172 and 351; al Tarṣūṣī, op. cit., p. 114.
48. Mubārakshāh, op. cit., p. 242.

Tactical Developments
and the Military Technology of Islam

263          Competing with the Ethiopians for the control of Yemen, and perhaps also having its own influence on southern Arabian military traditions, was Sassanian Iran. While there is some doubt that the above-mentioned asāwira (Pahlavi: asvārān) heavily armoured Persian cavalry actually reached the area, Daylamī infantry certainly did arrive.41 At that period, as later, these troops had a fine reputation
41. A. Christensen, L'Iran saos les Sassanides, (Copenhagen 1936), p. 362.

264 and fought with the weapons that they were later to make famous throughout much of the Muslim world.42
42. C. E. Bosworth, "Military Organization under the Būyids of Persia and Iraq," Orians, XVIII-XIX (1965-1966), p. 147.


300 Among the tribal levies enlisted from the more warlike peoples of various Sassanian frontier regions were infantry as well as cavalry. Daylamīs from the mountains south of the Caspian Sea were always renowned as infantry warriors, though they would also operate as a highly mobile force of mounted infantry. The men of Sijistān were likely to have included large infantry elements, as would contingents of Albanians and Abkhazians from the Caucasus, Cadusians from Azarbāyjān, and Pāriz from Kirmān. Of these the most famous remained the Daylamīs, who have already been mentioned as a contingent sent to the Yemen. In Sassanian times they apparently fought, as later, with swords, shields and traditional though still somewhat obscure zhūpīn javelins.48
48. Bosworth, "Military Organization under the Būyids of Persia and Iraq." p. 147.

301 Many troops from the Sassanian heartland, from which I exclude the Caucasus and what is now Afghanistān, also fought for the Caliphate immediately after the Muslim conquest. The first such troops to enlist under Muslim colours appear to have been four thousand Daylamīs of the Persian governor of Iraq's own bodyguard who changed their allegiance after the battle of Qādisīya in 635 AD.49 Others followed, though there is no confirmation that all these ḥamra al daylam, as they were known, adopted Islam.50 Other Sassanian troops, known to the first Muslims simply as hamra' or "red" foreigners with presumably paler complexions than the Arabs, were probably lighter cavalry than the heavily armoured asvārān. These latter were known in Arabic as asāwirah. Their numbers increased rapidly as elements of the defeated Sassanian armies flocked to Kūfa, adopted Islam, were allocated pensions and promptly got caught up in inter-Arab rivalries.51 Muʿāwiyah later split them up by sending some to Baṣra, others north to the Jazīra or west to Syria, and some even to Egypt.52
49. Al Balādhurī, op. cit., vol. I, p. 441.
50. Bosworth, "Military Organization under the Būyids of Persia and Iraq." pp. 146-147; Ayalon., "Preliminary Remarks on the Mamlūk Military Institution in Islam," pp. 44-45.
51. Al Balādhurī, loc. cit., Ayalon., "Preliminary Remarks on the Mamlūk Military Institution in Islam," loc. cit., Lammens, Études sur le Siècle des Omeyyades, p. 131.
52. Lewis, op. cit., p. 60; Lammens, Études sur le Siècle des Omeyyades, loc. cit.


358          Little seemed to have changed by the mid-10th century when the ghulāms of Muʿizz al Dawla, Būyid ruler of Iraq, were thrown into battle against rebellious Daylamite Infantry. For hours their finest troops attacked in waves, using traditional karr wa farr tactics, though shooting arrows rather than closing with lances. When these arrows were spent and they themselves were exhausted, a confusion of command led the reserve corps of "inferior" ghulāms suddenly to attack the Daylamis. These supposedly second-rate troops were also horse-archers, wearing jubbah broad-sleeved hauberks and riding horses with tijfāf felt armour. Turkish ghulāms were, in fact, elsewhere recorded as being more effectively armoured than their Daylamī foes. Instead of indulging in horse-archery, however, these fresh troops immediately closed and broke the ranks of the tiring Daylamī infantry.5
5. Miakawaihi, The Eclipse of the Abbasid Caliphate; Concluding Portion of the Experiences of the Nations D. S. Margoliouth and H. F. Amedroz edits, amd trans., (Oxford 1921), vol, II, pp. 164 and 336.


392          By Firdawsī's day, however, another nation of infantry warriors had made, or rather remade, a name for themselves. These were the Daylamīs from the Elburz mountains south of the Caspian Sea. Some had, of course, long ago transferred their allegiance from the defeated Sassanians to the rising power of Islam. Not all became Muslims, nor did some of their descendants who similarly served as mercenaries in the armies of the Umayyad and ʿAbbāsid Caliphs. Large vestiges of pre-Islamic culture also survived in their homeland, even after the bulk of the population had accepted Islam.29 Much the same might be said of their Gīlānī rivals from the narrow Caspian plain. Both peoples served as infantry in many areas, although the Gīlānīs never made quite such a name for themselves and also remained true to orthodox sunnī Islam while the Daylamīs became fervent shiʿīs.30
         The reputation of these warlike mountain folk, with their hirsute appearance, liking for garlic, very large brightly painted shields and traditional zhūpīn javelins, was clearly established in the Muslim world by the 10th century.31 At this early stage, and during the first phase of Būyid expansion in Iran, the Daylamīs still fought solely as mounted infantry, with mules to carry their
29. Bosworth, "Military Organization under the Būyids of Persia and Iraq," pp. 146-147.
30. Ibid., p. 149.
31. Mininorsky, "New Light on the Shaddādids of Ganja," p. 113; al Tanūkhī, op. cit., pp. 95-96.

393 equipment, javelins and armour.32 By the mid-10th century, leading Daylamī warriors employed shield-bearers, normally younger men or boys, though this might always have been the case. Full equipment now consisted of the large turs shield, dirʿ hauberk, zhūpīn javelin and perhaps a small, slender dagger known as a sakk or "nail".33 Some wore very heavy jawshan cuirasses while the jubbah hauberk was also mentioned. This latter was, however, described as an inadequate protection against the arrows of Turkish ghulāms.34 Yet the Daylamīs chief defence was his large, brightly painted turs shield, and to have this burned after a defeat was a mark of ultimate disgrace.35
         As the Būyid state, established by Daylamī arms grew in wealth and power, so the equipment of these troops seems to have grown in variety. Battle-axes and bows are now mentioned,36 the latter apparently using the nāwak arrow-guide to shoot short arrows elsewhere known as ḥusbān or jawāldūz. Such short arrows had, of course, been known in Sassanian times.37 Daylamī tactics seem to have remained the same, with a steady advance in an unbroken line or moving shield-wall. Javelins were then thrown to disrupt the foe, followed by close combat with battle-axes that might have been similar to an example held by a 9th or 10th century (warrior on a north-Persian Gabri-ware bottle Fig. 344).
32. Al Tenūkhī, loc. cit.
33. Miskowaihī, op. cit, vol. II, pp. 152-153.
34. Ibid., vol. II. pp. 161 and 336.
35. Ibid., vol. II. p. 205.
36. Bosworth, "Military Organization under the Būyids of Persia and Iraq," p. 149.
37. Al Balādhurī, op. cit., pp. 362-363.

394 This weapon is extraordinarily similar to one carried, perhaps by a mounted infantryman, in north-western India eight centuries earlier (Fig. 71). Some warriors from Daylam had also taken to fighting on horseback rather than operating solely as mounted infantry. These seem to have been heavy cavalry, perhaps influenced by the Kurds or Caucasian Albanians, and they fought with sipar shield and ṭabarzīn horseman's axe.38
         During the later 10th and 11th centuries Daylamī infantry seem to have been most successful when cooperating closely with cavalry, usually Turkish ghulāms, in Iran and the east. This was also apparently the case in Fāṭimid Egypt where the Daylamīs became close allies of the Turks in Cairo's turbulent politics.39 Similarly, the Daylamīs of the Fāṭimid Caliphate still fought with zhūpīn javelins and battle-axes, and employed young shield-bearers for their tall, oval or kite-shaped shields that were now known as tāriqah (Fig. 149). Other weapons in the Daylamīs' Egyptian armoury might have included qalāchūr long curved swords, perhaps referred to in Egypt as galjūrī swords,40 plus nafṭ fire-weapons.41
         While Daylamī infantry made their greatest impact in Būyid Iran and Iraq, and in Fāṭimid Egypt and Syria, they were also employed elsewhere. They had already served the orthodox sunnī Tūlūnid governors of Egypt,42 and the sunnī ʿAbbāsid Caliphs,
38. Miskawalhī, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 336 and 382; Mubārakshāh, op. cit., 262.
39. Beshir, op. cit., pp. 47-49.
40. Ibid., pp. 67-70.
41. Ibid., pp. 47-49 and 74 n. 210.
42. Ibid.; Hassan, op. cit., p. 167.

395 as palace guards and urban police forces,43 though they themselves were shīʿī. The greatest Daylamī impact was necessarily in Iran where, in the late 10th century, their military fashions had become dominant in, for example, the province of Fārs.44 One may assume that the warriors shown on foot, wielding broad, blunt-tipped swords, in an early 11th century Arabic manuscript were typical of their day (Fig. 361).
         The Būyids' gradual political decline encouraged Daylamī mercenaries to seek their fortunes further afield. They were soon as numerous in late 10th and early 11th century Syria as were unemployed Turkish ghulāms, and similarly sought service under the banners of Fāṭimids, ʿUqaylids and Mirdāsids.45 Eastwards, in Ghaznawid Afghanistān and north-west India they even formed an élite infantry guard with gilded and bejewelled rather than simply painted shields.46 After the fall of the Būyid state, the orthodox sunni Turkish Saljūqs seized power, but the reputation of the Daylamīs persisted to such an extent that they were again recommended as special palace guards, though whether they were ever recruited as such remains unclear.47
         But it was in Fāṭimid Egypt that they not only continued to serve in the late 11th and early 12th centuries,48 but left
43. Bosworth, "Military Organization under the Būyids of Persia and Iraq," p. 148.
44. Ibn Ḥawqal, Configuration de la Terre, J. H. Kramers and G. Wiet trans., (Paris 1964), vol. II, p. 283.
45. Beshir, loc. cit.
46. Bosworth, The Gḥaznavids, p. 111.
47. Niẓām al Mulk, op. cit., p. 67.
48. Canard, "La Procession du Nouvel An chèz les Fātimides," pp. 392-393.

396 perhaps their clearest impression in surviving art of this period (Figs. 157 and 158).

From the same source:
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Chapter 6. Body Armour by David Nicolle, an extract from The military technology of classical Islam
Chapter 8. Helmets by David Nicolle, an extract from The military technology of classical Islam
Chapter 10. Horse-Armour and Caparisons by David Nicolle, an extract from The military technology of classical Islam
Vol II, Chapter 4. Heavy Cavalry Under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates by David Nicolle, an extract from The military technology of classical Islam
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See also A Post Sasanian Banquet Scene, Bavandid dynasty, Tabaristan, 7th Century AD, British Museum 1963,1210.3
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers