An extract from Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291
by Ian Heath


There appear to be no contemporary illustrations of the Khan's 9-tailed Tuk standard (that depicted under 94a in 'Armies and Enemies of Ancient China' appears to be a misinterpretation of Hulagu Khan's royal umbrella). All we know of it is that it consisted of 9 white yak tails, Meng Hung adding that it had a 'black moon' in the middle, probably referring to the ball atop the staff. John Greer has suggested to me in correspondence that in fact there was no set arrangement for the tails, but that probably it was the number of tails that indicated rank. The number 9 itself was sacred to the Mongols, and Howorth thinks that the 9 yak-tail Tuk of the Khan probably resulted from the original division of the Mongols proper into 9 hordes (by Genghis Khan's time represented by the Orlok). 90a is my own interpretation of its appearance.

Most other standards were like 90b. Thomas of Spalatro describes Mongol standards as short, made of black or white yaks tails with balls of wool at the top, while other sources also refer to standards made 'from the black horse's tail', one of 4 black horse-tails apparently being another of their main battle standards. The Mongol standard at the Battle of Leignitz in 1241 described by German chroniclers as a demon with 'a grey head and a long black beard' was undoubtedly of this type. The Mongols at 'Ain Jalut in 1260 appear to have had white standards, but others may have been dyed red or other colours.

Other standards might be of cloth as was Kublai's, described by Marco Polo as carrying a sun and moon device. These may have resembled 90c, from Raschid al-Din's ms. of 1306.

See also 83, 84 Mongol Light Cavalryman, 85 Mongol Heavy Cavalryman, 86 Mongol Infantryman & 95 Mongol Pony
and 87, 88 Ilkhanid Light Cavalryman & 89 Ilkhanid Heavy Cavalryman in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath

Next: 91. FRANKISH HORSE in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath