In eleventh part of the inspiration series, we will take a look at excellent reconstruction of Old Hungarian warrior by young Russian reenactor Nikita Bolbikov.
When I wrote this article, Nikita was 22 years old, living in Moscow and has been doing re-enactment for the ninth year. He began – just like most Russian reenactors – with reconstruction of Birka. Over time, as he bought some equipment, he found out that he is more attracted to Eastern Europe. Maybe it had something to do with his Central European roots. And so he began to collect materials and conduct his own research, the conclusions are published in group “Reconstruction of the Hungarians” (Реконструкция Мадьяр). Nikita says that a lot of people reconstruct objects found in Hungary (belts, bags, sabers, helmet from Pécs), but only a few people reconstruct Hungarians and go into details.
Nikita’s costume represents an Old Hungarian man of high status from Carpathian Basin. The base of his costume consists of replicas of objects from the Karos locality. He tries to set his costume to 950–1000 AD.
Since there aren’t any whole pieces of clothing preserved in Pannonia, he had to use the closest analogy – Turkish finds with Byzantine influences. Nikita also uses Hungarian ethnography a lot, because it didn’t quite change over centuries. He also uses Arabic and Byzantine reports on Hungarians as sources of information.
Underwear (shirts and underpants) is based on archaic models, which can be documented in Hungarian ethnography. Felt pants are based on findings from Moshchevaya Balka, but this material was used by all nomads and its use can be traced even in Carpathian ethnography. Silk and linen caftans are based on Turkish finds from Central Asia. The cap is made of felt, covered with brocade and hemmed with marten pelt; it is based on a Hungarian bowl decoration found in Utemilsky. On his feet he wears replicas of shoes from Hasaut (North Caucasus), a very similar ones are also depicted on the bowl mentioned above. Bag (tarsoly) is a replica of find from Eperjeske. The belt, bow case (saadak), quiver and coins decorating the kaftan are replicas of finds from grave no. 52, Karos locality (burial ground III).
The axe and saber are replicas of finds from grave no. 11, Karos locality (burial ground II). The spear is Khazar type, but same ones have also been found in Hungary. The flag on the spear is based on a scene from a vase from Nagyszentmiklós. The helmet is replica of a helmet from Pécs. Mail armour is kind of a compromise, as there is no armour found in Old Hungarian graves, but there are some in younger graves, and according to Byzantine reports Hungarians used the armour.
All clothing is 100% hand-woven and hand-dyed with natural dyes, including brocade parts. The leather is hand-tanned. The metal parts are made of the same metals as the originals, especially gilded silver. Nikita made his own clothes and leather products (including shoes, belts, quivers and bow cases). The mail armour is also his own product. Weapons, helmet and cast items are purchased from certified manufacturers. Nikita says that his costume is not complete, as there are always new finds and resources to help raise awareness of what the Old Hungarians looked like. Therefore, it’s possible to reconstruct them more credibly.
Unfortunately, Nikita does not speak Hungarian, as Finno-Ugric languages are extremely complex, but he hopes to learn at least the basics in the future. However, he has many friends in Hungary which he visits and with whom he shares information.
I would like to thank Nikita Bolbikov for granting me permission to use his photographs and for detailed description of his costume. Here we will finish this article. Thank you for your time and we look forward to any feedback. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon or Paypal.