I usually find pictures of Cumans or Kipchaks (I know they are not exactly the same, but they were strongly related) wearing full armor and full helmets with a face mask on it.

I'm curious about two things:

  1. Is the face mask historically correct? I have seen some Russian movies where Rus wear similar type of helmets. Fictional mask found through the internet here. An example of Russian movie here, though I didn't find the scene where the armor is worn, but is basically the same as the first link shows...

  2. I'm also interested on how they look like in reality. Were they physically similar to the e.g. Armenians, or more like the "modern Turks" or Ukrainians?

If someone has pictures from some references will be also very good.

  • 1
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  • There are links now, but these are just what google returns in an usual search. Jul 3 at 22:14

As far as the masks go, it does appear that there was a cultural fashion among the steppe nomads of that time to use face masks with facial features on their helmets. Also the only two we have from that period with that kind of stylized mustaches do appear to most likely be Cuman. These are the helmet finds in Lipovets and Kovali, both from 12-13th century Ukraine.*

Lipovets Helmet Lipovets Helmet

There were several more masks found without the fan-favorite mustache that may or may not have been Cuman, and a few mustached masks from the post-Cuman era.

Now would this have been the helmet of a common soldier, or just an unusually high-ranking or rich one? We aren't really sure, but its right to be suspicious on this point. If nothing else, you'd think if they were pumping these out by the thousand, we'd have found more exemplars.

As for looks, genetic studies seem to be backing up historical assertions that they were originally a diverse federation of Eurasian peoples, rather than a tight ethnic group. So while they may have had a common dressing style (eg: pigtails and khaftans), not a lot can be said about them having any distinctive physical appearance.

* - The best consolodated resource I found on actual historical Cuman helmets was actually a YouTube video by Tolun Bey.

  • Ahá! Thanks for this answer and the video!! Jul 4 at 8:43
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    @user2820579 - Appreciate it. However the thanks for the video really goes to Mr. Bey. Anyone who's feeling particularly grateful can contribute to his Patreon. It looks like he's only got 2 patrons right now, and that seems a damn shame.
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 4 at 15:08
  • Indeed, I will consider it. There are not too many people in the west talking about these topics. Jul 5 at 8:11

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