UNIT: Elite Tang Tiger Cavalry Part 2: 虎冠骑

Elite Tang dynasty cavalryman wearing the distinctive 虎冠 "tiger crown" that marked them as some of the most elite warriors on the battlefield, sometimes the item would be sewn out of colorful fabrics with gilded rims and lacquered features that imitated a grimacing tiger while other times real tiger skin (claws and head) would be used to give the wearer a ferocious aspect. These wings usually gathered the bravest and the highest quality of fighting troops 

Sancai tiger crown warrior, Henan region. Tang dynasty


The 7th and first half of the 8th century are generally considered to be the era in which the Tang reached the zenith of its power. In this period, Tang control extended further west than any previous dynasty, stretching from Vietnam in the south, to northern Korea in the north-east, but most significantly to Kashmir in modern Tajikistan and Afghanistan bordering Persia in the west.

The various city-states of the Tarim Basin: the Han dynasty once exerted nearly 200 years of control in the region, and even after the disintegration of the Han, several partially Sinicized local kingdoms such as the Kingdom of Gaochang 高昌 ( Qara-hoja, Kara-Khoja) was able to act as a time-capsule and not only preserve the Han culture but also intermingle with those of the invaders that came after the Han. The Tang dynasty was able to forcefully exert its control in the region and conquer this region after destroying the Western Gokturk Khaganate and becoming the new overlord of all the city states in the region. During the Tang- the various local kings would also act as Tang governors.

The Tang cavalry would include steppe people such as the Gokturks, the Uighurs (both are still Mongoloid- thus oriental in appearance) and many of the Caucasoid people of the Tarim Basin, then Bactrians, Sogdians (modern Afghanistan) Persian, and even some Arabs.

The composition of these armies were uncertain, but according to works of Li Jing, the Duke of Wei and a Tang general who helped to destroy the Gokturk Empire- a typical campaign army (cavalry + infantry) would be made up of a force of around 10% crossbowmen, 10% archers, 20% cavalry and the remainder as melee infantry. Each infantry soldier was expected to carry a saber, lance, a bow and armor. Its officer core would be disproportionately staffed with Turkic generals.

The Tang cavalry was instrumental in establishing the empire's dominance in the western regions and in re-establishing a strong Chinese presence along the Silk Road, such that the victories of the Tang in the western regions and Central Asia have been offered as explanations as to why western peoples beyond the realm referred to China by the name 唐家 "House of Tang" (Tangjia.)

For more about the Tang military, please check out my
other Tang dynasty pieces.

Thank you to my Patrons who has contributed $10 and above: 
You helped make this happen!

➢ ☯ Stephen D Rynerson
➢ ☯ SRS (Mr. U)


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