Or if no that, there’s always a breastplate therefore sculpted that it would certainly deflect blows into the facility of the chest, perhaps killing that is owner.

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Fantasy armor for women can be a small heavy top top the fantasy, irradiate on the armor. Photo from: Stahlgilde.com.


I prefer a well done mrs warrior character, but I’m no alone in reasoning that there have obtained to it is in some much more realistic costume options out there.

When bringing any fantasy character to life, I try to pass it through a “real-world filter” so that the resulting costume, accessory, etc. Will be both functional and attractive. To carry out this, i usually begin each brand-new project by feather for historic precedents for the character.

This have the right to be problematic when developing a mrs warrior costume, though, since background hasn’t left us numerous examples of female armor.

Still, there needs to besomething out there. This write-up is devoted to finding and also sharing whatever style principles women warriors of periods past have actually left behind because that us.

A the majority of the info I’ll share right here is attracted from the bookThe Amazons: Lives and also Legends that Warrior Women throughout the ancient World, by Adrienne Mayor. For those of girlfriend wanting come fact-check me, I’ll note with one asterisk (*) once this book was whereby I acquired my information.

Did women Warriors really Exist?

Before I have the right to go illustration costume tips from factual mrs fighters, it’s essential to decision whether there in reality were any type of or whether together amazon warrior exist only in the realm of fantasy.

Now, transparent world history a variety of high file female armed forces leaders have actually arisen and done some exceptional things—women prefer Joan of Arc, Nakano Takeko, elegant O’Malley, and also Trieu Thri Trinh—but most of these women each appeared to be much more the exemption than the rule in their societies. What’s more, none left their armor behind for study.


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Vietnamese army leader Trieu Thri Trinh is claimed to have actually worn gold armor and also carried two swords astride a large war elephant…but no one of these have actually survived to this day. Picture from: listverse.com.


So, are there any type of examples of cultures where warlike women were much more common? This is actually a bit of a controversial topic.

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem dried Bones

Historically, war has been thought about to it is in strictly the domain of men. Operation under this assumption, years of excavators who uncovered bodies hidden with swords called them “warriors,” and assumed they to be male.

I mean, when you discover a grave gated by two gigantic iron lances with spears and also arrows flanking a human body bedecked in a enormous armored belt, you figure you’ve stumbled ~ above the dig of Genghis Khan!

More recently, however, researchers have actually been going back over these finds, and evaluating the bones an ext careful because that skeletal indicators of gender. Part have even done DNA testing.


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One means to recognize the sex of a skeleton is come look at the pelvis. A male example is top top the left; woman on the right. Image from: allthingsaafs.com.


In some places this has led to the how amazing finding that plenty of of the bodies buried with weapons were in reality women…including the warrior whose tomb i mentioned above (not Genghis Kahn, after ~ all). In Scythia (an vital location we’ll get to later), as much as a quarter of female burials have been classified together warriors.*

Evidence the Combat

Still, being buried with tools doesn’t necessarily do you a warrior. Fight wounds top top the skeletons make a much more convincing argument. For example, the warrior I’ve been describing had actually battleaxe wounds in the skull and a bent bronze arrowhead grounding in she knee.*

A solitary wound might mean the mrs was a hapless villager slain in one hit, but multiple wounds paint a snapshot of extreme hand-to-hand combat. Because that example, forensic analysis of female graves in Tuva (southern Siberia) revealed the following:

“Several women had healed fractures consistent with falls from horses. Fight wounds were greatly to the upper body, denote combat on same ground or top top horseback. At least 4 females had actually suffered left forearm fractures, most likely from combat… one of them…also had actually a fractured rib and ‘boxer’s fractures’ that the best hand, probably from ‘dealing a blow’ during a fight. A broken nose and also other facial fractures…were also attributed come ‘interpersonal or intergroup violence.’ about 24% of the head fractures through blunt weapons had been sustained by women. Generally the damages was on the left next of the skull, indicating ‘hand-to-hand combat when encountering a right-handed opponent.’


Figure from: The Amazons*


showed proof of multiple slashing-sword wounds when in motion and also facing one opponent… One warrior woman sustained several nicks and cuts ‘indicative that free-moving combat,’ that is, knife fighting with a foe. The location and also direction that the slashes indicate that she ‘was proactively engaged in combat…wielding a weapon do it daunting for her adversary to make a clean fatal stroke.’ The other woman had a solitary sword slash to the thigh, and had to be healed… The fight scars and also weapon trauma displayed by woman skeletons show that ‘warfare was no an exclusive male activity,’ although we cannot understand in every case whether the individual was a fighter or a victim.”*

In summary, were there ancient cultures where hunting and fighting women were commonplace? In a word: Yes.

Ancient Greece: The Amazons

Now that we know female warriors existed, allows look at some of the cultures that provide clues regarding how they can have dressed.

The faster depictions of ladies warriors are Greek vase paintings of Amazons—fierce and also barbaric mrs warriors.


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This vase from circa 450 BC shows Amazons top top horseback spearing Greek warriors. Image from: Tumblr.com.


In this images, Amazons are depicted as wearing long tunics fastened by broad belts. Your heads were either uncovered or clad in soft caps. Your feet to be bare or booted and above them they wore trousers or leggings patterned with geometric designs.In fact, the Greeks actually believed that trousers were invented by east warrior queens and the truth that men and also women wore the exact same attire in these societies was taken together a sign of their barbarism.*

The Greeks may have been accurate about the origin of trousers—the earliest preserved specimens are found in the tombs of horse-riding men and also women that the Tarim basin, circa 1200-900 BC. Because that a horse-centered culture, trousers to be infinitely more practical 보다 togas.*

In vase paintings, the Amazons do without doubt seem inseparable native horses. Their weapon of an option seems to it is in a spear, providing them adequate selection for efficient horseback combat.

But does all of this really mean anything? after all, the vase paintings are simply illustrations of regional myths and also legends, just like fantasy paints today. Surely the Amazon culture didn’t yes, really exist…or did it?

Scythia: Horse-masters the the Steppes

To the eastern of Greece, there was in reality a society that matches the Amazonian description: in the steppe lands roughly the black sea live a gyeongju of horse-riders recognized as Scythians.


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Map of ancient Scythia. Photo from: Worldfinancialreview.com.


The territory of the Scythians was vast and castle roamed it as nomads. Experienced hunters and also bowmen,* no desert was so lifeless nor hill so forbidding the it might contain them.

To the Greeks this wanderers must have seemed uncivilized—even barbaric. Just as the Greek paints depicted, Scythian men and also women alike wore sharp caps, tunics, thick animal leather belts decorated through iron plaques, and also trousers or long skirts hiked increase for easy riding.*


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Artist’s restoration of a Scythian warrior woman.


In enhancement to their affinity for horses, Scythians additionally trained gold eagles come hunt because that them, and at least one Scythian female has actually been discovered buried with a thick leather falconry mitt on she left hand.*

This tradition of aerial hunting proceeds to be exercised in modern-day Kazakhstan (a location with special meaning to me), wherein well-trained golden eagles room even capable of taking down wolves.


13-year-old Ashol Pan is keeping alive the centuries-old Kazakh heritage of woman eagle huntresses. Photo from: Dailymail.com.


It is in the Scythian lands the the majority of archaeological evidence for females warriors has been found. This area likewise offers us our first well-preserved instance of woman armor.

In 1969 a large burial mound 60 meters in one was discovered in Issyk, Kazakhstan. The mound contained a crushed skeleton hidden in a 2-foot-tall golden headdress and a fabulous tunic spanned in roughly 3,000 gold elements arranged in a scale-like pattern. This skeleton likewise had a dagger and also a long sword through scabbards decorated with golden horses and also elk.

Because that these tools the find was quickly popularized as the golden “Man” that Issyk.


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Reconstruction the the ceremonial dress of the gold “Man” of Issyk. Note the similarity come the geometric tunic fads seen on Greek paintings of Amazons. Picture from: Almatyregion-tour.


The thing is, in addition to a sword and a dagger, the gold “Man” also possessed a bronze mirror, a spindlewhorl, and also many beads—items nearly exclusively found buried with females, and particularly priestesses.

Exact gender evidence from this ancient big-shot’s crushed skeleton is not available, however these post-mortem accoutrements have actually led countless to believe that the gold Man of Issyk is in reality a “Golden Princess.”

Not every Scythian woman might be a gold Princess, however there to be still means for the poorer course to remain in style. In one Scythian fixed grave, a pair of pants were uncovered which were covered in beautiful embroidery. This pants show up to have sewn with each other from pieces of a wall hanging plundered during a Scythian raid ~ above Baktria.*

Europe: One size Fits All

Scythian females may have been the initial Amazons, however if you’re looking to build a lady warrior cosplay, opportunities are you’re hoping for a much more European-inspired look.

Unlike Scythia, however, in middle ages Europe gender roles were much more distinct, and also for a mrs to don armor and also join in combat was exceptional. There are literary sources which cite women participating in combat, a few cases of knight-like status offered to 10th- come 15th-century womenand part imaginative medieval illustrations the warrior ladies of legend, but to day no image has actually been found of a middle ages woman in armor the was made during her lifetime.

We may not need these images, though.Contemporary writings have tendency to define warrior women as wearingexactly the very same thing together men, and also we have actually plenty of examples of male armor native the period.

So, if a woman fought in the days prior to plate armor, climate she most likely wore a chainmaille hauberk…just favor the men.

Famously, King Charles VII that France commissioned a suit of bowl armor to be made particularly for Joan of Arc.


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Based on contemporary armor trends and the few descriptions us have, Joan that Arc’s armor may have actually looked something like this. Picture from: jeanne-darc.info.


The armor cost 100 écus (not specifically extravagant) and also was defined as a “white harness.” “White” method that there were no decorations top top the armor and “harness” way that it was an all-in-one suit, rather than a set of removeable pieces.


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A modern woman in unembellished “white” key armor.


Joane’s practice armor was provided to the town of Saint Dennis in ex voto and disappeared from history after that.


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Tradition holds that this bascinett to be worn in battle by Joan that Arc. Photo from: Metmuseum.org.


Over the years, several civilization have asserted to have discovered the suit—usually based upon battle damage corresponding to Joanne’s wounds—but so much none the these insurance claims have endured serious scrutiny.

Scandinavian “Shieldmaidens”

Farther north, norseman mythology is replete with referrals to Valkyries and also “Shieldmaidens,” such as Alfhild, who was both a princess and a pirate.

In this area the the world, plenty of skeletons have actually been found of women hidden with weapons (and males with jewelry for the matter), and there space some historic references come warrior women. One ancient Icelandic regulation code, for example, renders provisions for experienced female warrior calledSkjoldmø(Shieldmaidens).

None the this evidence is very concrete, but on the whole it suggests that in archaic Norse culture gender duties may have actually been an ext fluid than in neighboring countries.

So, if females warriors walk exist in Scandinavia, what walk they wear?

Unfortunately very small clothing has actually survived native Scandinavian burials, however the info we have indicates that like the rest of Europe, north Shieldmaidens likely donned the exact same armor together their male counterparts.


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In Tolkien’s “The mr of the Rings,” Eowyn follows the shield maiden heritage of dressing in man’s armor to join in the fight for Minas Tirith.


Around the 12th century, Danish historian and author Saxo Grammaticus explained Shieldmaidens thus:

There were when women amongst the Danes that dressed us to look favor men, and dedicated almost every prompt of their stays to the pursuit of war, the they can not suffer their valour to be unstrung or dulled by the infection of luxury. For they abhorred every dainty living, and used come harden their minds and bodies with toil and endurance. They put away all the softness and lightmindedness of women, and inured your womanish spirit to woman ruthlessness. Lock sought, moreover, so zealously to be expert in warfare, the they could have been believed to have unsexed themselves.

This description paints a picture of women who abhorred timeless feminine roles and values and also aligned themselves with a much more masculine identity. If this truly was the case, climate it appears most most likely that among Norse societies all warriors—male and also female alike—would have looked pretty similar going right into battle.

Japan: Onna Bugeisha

No evaluation of woman warriors would be finish without pointing out the contribute of the JapaneseOnna Bugeisha (“female martial artist”).

There are countless Japanese legends about early warrior women such together Tomoe Gozen. It is unclear how much of these story is fact and also how much is fiction, but it is details that they play a big part in creating a national picture of brave females wielding naginata to safeguard their houses when the men had gone come war.

The naginata was a long, spear-like weapon with a bent blade ~ above the end. This was a wise weapon because that a female warrior. A male opponent might have remarkable size and also strength, however this might be circumvented by keeping him in ~ arm’s length.


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Image from: Wikimedia commons.


Tomoe Gozen may or may not have actually been a genuine person, but in later Feudal Japan there room plenty of more factual account of females (such as Nakano Takeko) fighting both in ~ home and also on the battlefield.DNA research studies on many mass tombs have found around one third of the bodies to it is in female. Because these graves were from open warfare and not siege situations, the is reasonable to i think that far-reaching numbers of women were present on the battlefield, and may also have to be combatants.

The feudal duration was long (1185-1868 AD), and also gradually the mrs martial tradition grew into formal schools which instructed ladies in naginata use.

Another delightful side-effect that the lengthy feudal duration is the it stretched all the method into the period of the camera, supplying us a photographic record of Japan’s warrior women.


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A colorized photo of a so late feudal Onna Bugeisha. Picture from: historydaily.org.


One recently discovered suit the armor has several fascinating adjustments to make it much more suitable for usage by a woman.


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Image from: Bonhams.com.


The armor pictured over features enlarged an are in the helmet (for extra hair), a unique style which opens up in the front allowing the armor to be donned independently (to prevent embarrassment) and also deerskin lining under all the armor aspects so as not to damages a silk kimono worn underneath.

Africa: Amazon army of Dahomey

An equally recent and well-documented group of females warriors existed in Africa in between the 17th and 19th century AD. These to be the soldier of the kingdom that Dahomey—perhaps the biggest organized team of exclusively female warriors in history.

The origins of this women’s army are somewhat unclear. Some believe they began as Gbeto elephant hunters. Others feel they were an initial stationed as a palace guard comprised of their king’s third-tier wives.


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Female Gbeto elephant hunters. Picture from: Smithsonianmag.com.


Regardless that the beginning story, the Dahomey women happened a substantial and an effective military organization, fighting for king and country through legendary ferocity.

These warriors underwent brutal training, including harsh physical hardening and emotional “insensitivity training” involving the slaughter of prisoners to prepare girls to kill without mercy on the battlefield. This savage way of life was appealing to plenty of women because it elevated them native a life of forced drudgery to gift elites with complimentary access to alcohol, tobacco, and slaves.

There room a number of pictures of the Dahomey warriors. These show them wielding muskets and wearing long skirts make of multiple piece of fabric, v an “armored” optimal covered in white sea shells (click the snapshot for the full-size image).

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The trouble through these images is the they were every taken in the late 19th or beforehand 20th century. After ~ 200 year of military expansion, Dahomey was defeated, and also their soil taken, by the French in 1890. The Dahomey warriors (men and also women alike) were virtually immediately taken to various countries as objects the curiosity. They showed up at London’s crystal royal residence in 1893, whereby they perform imitation combat and also where countless of the existing images were taken.

During this London period, the Dahomey warriors drew tremendous crowds, partially to check out their curious costumes. Accordingly, the police ensured the they were “well wrapped up.”


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July 1893 railway timetable advertising the Dahomey spectacle. Picture from: Africanamerica.org.


Because these images were taken once the warriors were dressed to suit the tastes of a europe audience, the is hard to say exactly how much of their get-up is authentic and how much is simply costuming.

More dependable are accounts and also illustrations of these “Amazons” prior to their defeat. In 1861, an Italian priest called Father Francesco Borghero went to Dahomey, whereby the king verified off his prized women warriors by having actually them phase a mock battle.Author Stanley Alpern summary Borghero’s summary of the spectacle thus:

“At part distance native the barricade were about 3,000 armed and also uniformed women. Two or three hundred the them brought giant straightedge razors folded right into wooden handles. That was stated that these weapons, wielded with both hands, might cut a male in 2 at the middle with one swipe. Every the other warrioresses were equipped through flintlock muskets and swords.

“The females wore battledress: a half-sleeved rust-colored tunic cinched at the waist by a cartridge belt, and also shorts of nearly knee length. Narrow white headbands to be tied at the back. Part amazons wore copper or gemstone bracelets and also anklets. Every were barefoot.”

The monk went ~ above to describe a young female general who later on visited v him:

“She to be aged around thirty, slender but shapely, proud of bearing however without affectation.”

Borghero’s report is pretty constant with these 1851 plates depicting Dahomey woman officers:


1851 illustrations that Dahomey officers. The ladies on the appropriate are sporting “horns of office.” pictures from: Smithsonianmag.com.


The apparel seen here—tunics, trousers, belts and also bare feet—is interesting in the similarity to the Amazons seen in Greece and also Scythia, also though the societies are be separated by hundreds of miles and just as many years.

Together, the 1893 photos and the 1851 illustrations provide two various takes top top the dress of one incredible situation of female armed forces might.

Summary

Women warriors might not be commonly mentioned transparent history, yet they did exist, and we do have actually some idea what lock wore.

See more: Drawing Conclusions Graphic Organizers, {Free} Drawing Conclusions Graphic Organizer

So, whether it’s an elvish princess or a viking shieldmaiden, the following time you’re building a woman warrior costume, think about the complying with historically-inspired suggestions:

Outfit your character through long- and medium-range weapons such together spears, naginata, or bows and also arrows.Ally yourself with an animal friend choose a horse or eagle.Consider a scythian look with tunic, trousers, a large armored belt, and also geometric patterns.Build your clothing out that embroidered towel plundered indigenous the last village you sacked.Follow the African tradition of fighting through bare feet (plus perhaps a gemstone anklet).Line your armor with fur to protect much more feminine clothing underneath.Wear a pointed lid or a helmet v plenty that room for her hair, or simply pull it back with a headband.Look in ~ what men were wearing in the period you’re interested in, and also imitate that.Design armor that can be put on separately to stop embarrassment ~ above the battlefield.Avoid skimpy or overly-sculpted chest piece that are simply downright dangerous!

Put it all together and you just could end up v something that looks prefer this:


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An great Scythian costume—feminine, fierce, and also historically grounded. Image from: Facebook.