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ARAB STANDARDS

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


102.      ARAB STANDARDS

Arab standards were initially no more than strips of cloth wrapped round the ends of lances. Umayyad standards were white, adopted from the tribal standards of the pre-Islamic Quraish Arabs; those of the Abbasids were black, Khawarij red, and Spanish Umayyads, Alids and Fatimids green. Green standards as well as yellow and black, are also recorded during the very earliest part of the Moslem era. Mohammed's personal standard was called 'Eagle' and may therefore have depicted an eagle device; it was still carried by Khaled ibn al-Walid at Aznaidan in 634. Chroniclers variously claim this standard to have been white or black.

The two standards shown here are both from painted bowls, 102a an infantry standard of the 10th century and l02b a cavalry standard of the 9th century. Interestingly both have short staffs, though those of 2 black Abbasid standards (aptly named 'Shadow' and 'Night') recorded in the mid-8th century were possibly as much as 13-14 feet in length.

It should also be noted that most Arab armies were accompanied by musicians by the 10th century at the very latest, their bands including drums, trumpets, pipes and other instruments.



96. ARAB INFANTRYMAN in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath
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