Lioness, by Anne Marte Markussen

lioness1Lioness, by Anne Marte Markussen

“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road to either safety or ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.” —Sun Tzu

Another area of discussion I keep meaning to place more focus on (I really need to stop finding these areas) is the functionality of ceremonial armor. Armor designed for formal or ceremonial occasions doesn’t necessarily have to be sturdy or functional in battle. Jeweled pauldrons, gold trim, even boob-plate aren’t necessarily inappropriate when the armor is never intended to see combat. Plates, scales, and chain can be made from precious metals; sculpting that makes repairs difficult or creates angles that inhibit absorption or deflection are perfectly acceptable; protrusions that risk getting hung up in the brush or being used as a handhold by an enemy aren’t that big an issue. But I would also like to posit that just because dress armor can be unsuited for battle doesn’t mean that it has to be.

I loved the smart, stylized Egyptian look to Anne’s Lioness’s armor. Though not as popular as Greek or Samurai armor for modern representations, it’s still possible to find decent reproductions if one looks hard enough. (And then there’s… whatever this is.) While more anachronistic than accurate, Anne’s design is a smart set for any ranking officer or militant noblewoman. Even if this particular outfit has never seen battle, I’m fairly confident the good-humored lady soldier wearing it has. Her poise is both aristocratic and commanding, and she has a solid, soldierly build. All in all, simply a smart depiction on Anne’s part.

(For the purposes of this discussion, I’m operating under the assumption that our heroine’s armor is polished bronze, rather than gold or brass costume pieces.)

lioness1While I wouldn’t recommend our heroine’s outfit for open-field combat along the Nile’s sandy banks, it should work well enough for personal combat. Though the glass or jeweled embellishments probably wouldn’t hold up to even light combat, the segmented bronze backing should keep her shoulders safe and allow her to swing a harpe or draw a bow unhindered. Our lady’s torso is well protected by a scale cuirass, for effective spear or arrow deflection and reasonable axe or sword absorption.

I like the light, airy look of our lovely Lioness’s wrap and pants—loose for quick movement in a duel or combat. Sculpted lion’s head vambraces should offer decent protection from enemy blades, or when stiff-arming some impertinent nobleman. Knee pads with the same lion motif should protect from disabling blows to the knees, or for knee strikes to the groi… er, gut when the impertinent nobleman just isn’t taking a hint.

One last thing to consider in regards to decorative armor: decorativeness can be a ruse. Our Lioness’s chest wrap may hide a bronze or steel chestplate. Her pauldrons and vambraces might be reinforced with leather padding. Or perhaps those loose, silky pants hide a partial battle skirt of bronze scales. Given the occasionally cutthroat politics of the Egyptian court, it never hurts to be prepared.

On the battlefield, our heroine might command a unit of spear-toting infantry or a squadron of chariots for the armies of Pharaoh. Or perhaps she’s not a native Egyptian, but a representative for a mercenary unit of Nubian infantrywomen. Or maybe she’s an Egyptian noble under the Persian Empire, leading a cavalry regiment for the Achaemenid Dynasty. Or, given the Ptolemies’ resurrection/adaptation of classical Egyptian attire, she might even lead a phalanx of professional pikemen against the encroaching Seleucid Empire. There are a lot of interesting possibilities, really.

Huge thanks and eHigh-fives to Anne for the use of her Lioness for the blog! Be sure to check out her galleries on Tumblr as well. Thanks so much for reading folks! Take care and stay awesome!

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9 Responses to Lioness, by Anne Marte Markussen

  1. Tim Newman says:

    25th Dynasty archer commander, perhaps. Few Egyptian troops other than archers appear to have worn wrist protection. And the style of it, and for that matter her hair style, look a bit more Kushite than Egyptian.

    • That’s a good point; I hadn’t considered archer captain as a possibility, but it makes a lot of sense. And I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about Ancient and Classical Egyptian history to look into dynastic variations, so I appreciate your feedback. I considered Kush, but went with Egyptian because I felt like Egypt was closer to what the artist had in mind. Thanks for commenting!

  2. seraph4377 says:

    Armor designed for formal or ceremonial occasions doesn’t necessarily have to be sturdy or functional in battle. Jeweled pauldrons, gold trim, even boob-plate aren’t necessarily inappropriate when the armor is never intended to see combat.

    I’m reminded of Princess Ce’Nedra’s dilemma from David Eddings’s Belgariad. A tiny woman with no training, she knows she’s not going to be getting in any fights, but she still needs to impress the army she’s leading. Which – at least in her mind – involves reminding them that she’s an adult woman instead of a page who’s too young to shave. Her insistence on boob plate leads to a hilarious argument with the armorer.

    protrusions that risk getting hung up in the brush or being used as a handhold by an enemy aren’t that big an issue.

    …and now I’m reminded of the royal family’s helms from the Thor movies. I’m firmly convinced those helms are their crowns. Thor never wears his famous winged helmet, and we only even see him carrying it during his coronation, Odin doesn’t wear his during the Svart Alfar invasion, and even Loki tends to take his off when he’s expecting a real fight (i.e., Jotun or Svart Alfar; the fact he leaves it on when he’s fighting humans might be an indication that he doesn’t take us seriously).

  3. Dee says:

    I’ve also seen a helmet/pot from the Stuart era in England that has the coat of arms with its supporters on the faceguard; the eyes would have to look past the unicorn’s horn and the lion’s head. Nowhere in the article does it specifically say it’s ceremonial, but it would have to be!
    https:/ /www. royalarmouries. org/visit-us /tower-of-London /line-of-kings /line-of-kings-objects /single-object/358

  4. seraph4377 says:

    Reblogged this on Dreams of the Shining Horizon and commented:
    Last week, I put up a post – with a link to a much older one – that discussed pragmatic and realistic medieval arms and armor for the benefit of the fantasy writer that doesn’t happen to also be a historian.

    Both of those posts were based on the assumption that “pragmatic” and “realistic” were one and the same, and in many cases, that’s true. But this week’s Sartorially Smart Heroines gives us a discussion of ceremonial armor that reminds us that there are perfectly realistic reasons that armor wouldn’t be pragmatic at all (though as it happens, our heroine-for-the-week’s mostly is, if certain assumptions are correct). Check it out, and check out the comment section for further discussion.

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