Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

Hussar masks

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, was 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, 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.”


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