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Reconstructions and Originals of

Sogdian murals from Panjakent (Panjīkant), 6th-8th Centuries

3rd Register, Blue Room (Sector VI, room 41).
2nd Register, Rustam Cycle, Blue Room.

On a high valley terrace on the Zeravshan River, 6km from the modern town of Penjikent, are the ruins of ancient Penjikent, a major Sogdian town founded in the 5th century and abandoned in the 8th century with the arrival of the Arabs. The ancient city has not been built upon since. The foundations of houses, a citadel with a couple of Zoroastrian temples, and the city bazaar are visible in the excavated ruins, but the best of the frescoes (some of them 15m long), sculptures, pottery and manuscripts have been carted off to Tashkent and St Petersburg. There is also a small museum chronicling the excavations; copies of frescoes are also there.

Cavalrymen with long maille coats, banded vambraces and greaves, spheroconical helmets with nasals, ear pieces, worn on top of face-covering coifs. They wear a coat over their armour with some decoration. Some Sogdians are shown wearing long coats of lamellar, with three-way or two-way split skirts, and upper-arm defences. The lamellae are B-shaped and a few have been found in Eastern Europe which match the Sogdian depictions. They would likely be alternating brass and iron (or gilded and silvered). The shield cover from Mount Mogh shows early bazubands, although it's not clear whether the elbows were cupped. This type of armour was probably used by the Samanid cavalry as well, except there, you might expect them to carry primitive sabres (from the 8th or 9th Century), and possibly strung bowcases towards the very end rather than C-shaped unstrung bowcases. And the crupper straps for the horse would be different as well.
Source: Retlaw Snellac




Reconstruction of the Rustam frieze, made at the time of excavation by artists Gremyachinskaya and Nikitin, now in the Museum of History of Culture of Panjikent, Tajikistan.
Rustam Cycle, Blue Room. Sogdian mural from Panjakent, 6th-8th Centuries, State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

Text links to the paintings from Panjakent
Wall-painting: Charging Sogdian Cavalry. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: A Victorious Return. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: Sogdian Horsemen. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: Rustam with Lasso. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: Rustam slaying the Dragon. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting (reconstruction & original details): Sogdian Armoured Cavalry follow Rustam. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: Rustam leads his troops. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: Right of Rustam Cycle, Blue Room, Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: The Divs. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD.
Wall-painting: Rustam, mounted on Rakhsh, fights an adversary. 'Blue Room', Piandjikent, c.740AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting (reconstruction): Offering Gifts. Painting from the northern wall of room 8 of sector VI. Sogdian mural from Panjakent.
Wall-painting (watercolour): Offering Gifts. Painting from the northern wall of room 8 of sector VI. Sogdian mural from Panjakent.
Wall-painting (reconstruction & original): the death of Syavush. Piandjikent, Sector XI, south wall, seventh-eighth century. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting (reconstruction): ritual scene, probably depicting the Nu Ruz sacrifice, with traces of Soghdian inscription. Piandjikent, Sector X, north wall, seventh-eighth century.
Wall-painting: men playing chess. Sector VI, room 13, Piandjikent, seventh century. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting (reconstruction): Sector VI, room 13, Sogdians playing a board game.
Wall-painting (reconstruction): Horsemen. Sector III, room 17, Piandjikent, seventh century. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: Riders, Sector III, Room 17. Sogdian Piandjikent (Penjikent). State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting (reconstruction): Sogdian Ritual Banquet Scene. Sector VI, room 1, Sogdian Piandjikent.
Wall-painting: Rings and Dragons Cycle, The Two Kings Feasting, Sector VI, Room 1, Sogdian Piandjikent. Tajikistan National Museum of Antiquities, Dushanbe.
Wall-painting: A Mounted Warrior, Sector VI, Room 1, Sogdian Piandjikent. Tajikistan National Museum of Antiquities, Dushanbe.
Wall-painting (reconstruction): Harpist with a nimbus. Piandjikent, seventh century. Tajikistan National Museum of Antiquities.
Wall-painting: A Harpist and a Battle. Sector VI, room 1, Piandjikent, seventh century. Tajikistan National Museum of Antiquities.
Wall-painting (reconstruction): The Victors at the Gate. Reception Hall VI/1, 7th-8th centuries AD. Tajikistan National Museum of Antiquities, Dushanbe.
Wall-painting: Armoured Warrior, Sector VI, room 55, Sogdian Piandjikent (Penjikent).
Wall-painting: Sogdian Artist's Feast. Piandjikent, Sector XXIV. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: A King of the Demons. Sector XXVI, Room 19, Piandjikent, eigth century. National Museum of Antiquities, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Wall-painting: Warrior in full mail armour assisting a prostrate man. Sector XXII, Room 1, Piandjikent, early 8th century AD. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: Banquet. Sector XVI, Room 10. Amazon Hall. Piandjikent. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: A Battle, Sogdian Piandjikent. Tajikistan National Museum of Antiquities, Dushanbe.
Epic Mural, East Wall, Amazon Hall, Sector XXI, Room 1. Sogdian Piandjikent (Penjikent). State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Epic & Fables Mural, West Wall, Amazon Hall, Sector XXI, Room 1. Sogdian Piandjikent (Penjikent). State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Wall-painting: Victorious Army, Rustam Cycle, Sector XXIII, room 50. Sogdian Piandjikent (Penjikent).
Wall-painting: Throne Scene, Rustam Cycle, Sector XXIII, room 50. Sogdian Piandjikent (Penjikent).
Wall-painting : Personification of the Moon, Sector XXIV Iwan. Sogdian Penjikent. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.


Referenced in Attila and the Nomad Hordes by David Nicolle (Author), Angus McBride (Illustrator), p53:
The wall-paintings uncovered in the pre-Islamic palace of Piandjikent, not far from Samarkand, illustrate battles, hunting, feasting and religious celebration. Helmets are almost always very pointed with cheek-pieces and mail aventails, some pulled over the wearer's face. Warriors wear long or short-sleeved mail hauberks, some alone, others under tunics or lamellar cuirasses. Bows are carried unstrung in long cases, swords are straight and round shields are small while a distinctive form of horse-bit curves around the front of the animal's mouth. Many such features were adopted by the Muslim armies which conquered Transoxania shortly after these pictures were painted. (Hermitage Mus., Leningrad)
Referenced by Saljuq Clothing by Elsie H. Peck

Referenced as figures 428 to 440 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle

For a detailed article about Pandjikant see Encyclopaedia Iranica



See also A Sogdian Mortuary Couch, A.D. 550-577. China, Henan province, probably Ce xian
Sogdian Hunting Scene Relief in Varahsha, 6th-7th Centuries. National Museum of Uzbek History, Tashkent.
Cup with horseman, Khwarezm c.7th to beginning of the 8th Century
Shield (fragment) with horseman. Mugh Castle. Soghdian, eighth century. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Iranian Dish with a Sogdian? Horse-archer Hunting, c.8th Century
A Sogdian Horse Archer in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath
Sogdian split tapestry (kilim) coat with animal motifs, Central Asia, 9th/10th Century

Tokharians and Uighurs of the Tarim Basin City States
Persia Illustrations & Articles
Ancient Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers