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An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


The Ghaznavids were Turkish mercenaries who had overthrown their Samanid employers in 999. Their multi-racial armies included Turks, Indians, Tajiks, Daylamis, Arabs (called Divsuvaran, 'Dare-devil riders'), Kurds, Afghan mountain peoples and ghazi irregulars. Ghuzz were employed from 1025, and later Seljuks.

Infantry were principally Indians but included Daylamis, Tajiks and others. They were armed with bow, spear, mace or short sword, leather-covered or metal shield, helmet and mail corselet, all official issue. Lamellar would often be substituted for mail.

Cavalry carried bow, lance, mace, axe, sabre or qalachur (a 2-edged, curved sword) and lasso and according to their rank were accompanied by a number of spare horses. Many still bore a close resemblance to late Sassanid clibanarii and probably looked like 108.

Ghaznavid standards were black and carried a moon and phoenix device, those of their ghulams substituting lions - a common motif on eastern standards both during and subsequent to this era. The chatr or royal umbrella, which was black and at the end of this period surmounted by a jewel-covered falcon, was probably also used as a type of standard.

Next: 110. Ghaznavid Ghulam in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath