Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

Hussar masks, and shields

Hungarian treasures in the world
(Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Austria)
Hungarian Hussar mask for tournaments, 1557

It is described like this:
„The mask visors – in modern tournament descriptions they are also called “Larffen” – were important props for the so-called “Husari” or “Hungarian” tournament. In these disguise or masked tournaments, one party in a hussar attire faced a person disguised as Ottomans and Moors.

The Hussars, a Hungarian elite unit, were recognized as defenders of the empire in the east against the Ottomans; they appeared in the Hungarian colors red-white-green and wore Hungarian sabers, longspurs, winged as well as the long, hollow horsemen of Eastern European or Turkish lancers, so-called “copi”.

During his governorship in Bohemia (1547-1564), Archduke Ferdinand II organized numerous Hussar tournaments, which served as a means of political propaganda against the real political background of the danger of the Turks threatening from the east.

This propaganda was reinforced by the “visual imagination” using masking and disguise. Made of iron and painted with oil color change sights imitated the physiognomy of the “Moors” and “Hussars” at the tournament. Cut-out eyebrows served as viewing slits, and the painted eyes of the masks are provided with air holes. A riveted leather band above the mouth opening was intended to attach the characteristic long mustache of the hussars; it consists of horsehair here.
On the sides and top are leftovers of riveted leather straps to which a helmet, turban, or “Hungarian hat” could be attached. The masks were made in Prague. Archduke Ferdinand II, incidentally, even in tournaments often occurred in the role of a hussar.
Currently not exhibited.”

Hussar shield (cc 1550)

This wooden-leather shield used to belong to a Hungarian hussar cavalryman. Now, it is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Austria.

A Hungarian Tartsche “tárcsa pajzs” – Hussar shield, cc 1515

According to the Museum’s description, it is a Hungarian winged shield, with Dürer’s etching on it…However, we do not know whether it was made in Hungary or not. It is completely made of bare iron, the wing-shaped shield is slightly convex. 

This shield was probably ordered in 1515 by Emperor Maximilian I (Emperor Maximilian I. son of Friedrich III. von Habsburg (1459 – 1519) on the occasion of the Vienna double engagement. The shield has a Gothic-style character. The shield is supposed to have been made by Hofplattner Hans Laubermann.
Currently exhibited: New Castle, Hofjagd- and Rüstkammer, Saal II
Material: Iron sheet, etching decoration with black filling, star-shaped brass rivets, brass rosette…

The main surface is adorned with a blackened line etching with the shooting of the bow, an allegory of the plague, which is closely related to Dürer’s fourth woodcut of his Apocalypse series that he created in 1498.

Dürer’s Apocalypse

You can read more about the connection between Dürer and Hungary here:

A Hungarian-Style Shield ca. 1500–1550 from Eastern Europe

(Metropolitan Museum, New York)
This wing-shaped shield and others like it in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection (42.50.30, 49.57.1), with the distinctive upward-sweeping back edge, were the characteristic light-cavalry shields of Hungarian Hussars.

During the 16th century, the style was adopted across much of eastern Europe by both Christian and Islamic horsemen. The shield’s elongated upper edge was designed to defend the back of the head and neck against cuts from a saber, the preferred cavalry weapon in that region.

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