Sogdian cheekpieces

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Helmeted warriors on the walls of Panjakent

Sogdian helmets in paintings look rather distinctive. The helmets are spheroconical, often with a scallopped browband, and triangular finial (although other finial shapes are known from surviving Sogdian helmets). One particular feature that seems fairly unique to Sogdiana are the banded cheek plates, which appear on almost every depiction of a Sogdian helmet, but are almost never seen outside Sogdiana.

A Sogdian warrior at Panjakent. Image with thanks to Ehsan Shavarebi

Simply by looking at the paintings, one can’t really be totally sure of their construction. Banded armour for arms and legs was also known in the area prior to the Sogdian era (more on these later), and banded cheekpieces are also seen much earlier on coins of a local ruler called Tanlis Mardates from Margiana, from the 2nd – 1st Century BC.

Fortunately, a handful of archaeological finds from eastern Europe dated from the 6th Century AD have turned up a number of helmets with “Sogdian” style cheekpieces, showing a very consistent laced construction. Each cheek piece is made up of a number of horizontal plates, each with 3 columns of 3 rows of holes (9 holes per plate, in a 3 x 3 grid).

Click here to learn how to make them. They’re surprisingly easy.

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