Persian Heritage Journal article on Babak Khorramdin

The Persian Heritage Journal has published an article by Kaveh Farrokh on the historical background of factors that led to the revolt of Babak Khorramdin:

Farrokh, K. (2014). An Overview of the Historical Circumstances that led to the Revolts of Babak Khorramdin. Volume XIX, No. 74, Summer, pp.21-23.

Babak_Castle-2An ingress into Babak Khorramdin’s Castle of Bazz in Iran’s Azerbaijan province in the northwest (Picture source: Pouya Yazdchi). Built during the Partho-Sassanian eras, Bazz proved to be a formidable fortress. Bazz finally fell to the Caliphate’s Turkish troops in August 15, 837 CE. Babak was executed five months later by the Caliphate in Samara (in modern Iraq) in January 838 CE.

As noted in the the article: “…though conquered [By the Arabo-Muslims in 637-651 CE], Persian language and cultural traditions such as the Nowruz (Iranian New Year) continued to endure (Axworthy, 2006, p.107). Ettinghausen corroborates this by noting that Iran had “…lost its independence, though not its cultural identity” (Ettinghausen, 1972, p.1). “

Babak Korramdin (795-838 CE) was to lead the last and perhaps greatest of all anti-Caliphate movements in Iran; as averred to in the article, Ibn Hazm has stated that: “the Persians…were greater than all of the people… after their defeat by the Arabs, they [the Persians] rose up to fight against Islam…among their leaders were Sunbadh [Sindbad], Muqanna, Usta- sis, Babak [Khorramdin] and others…”.

Babak in BattleA portrayal of Babak Khorramdin (Picture source: Babak Khoramdin) who led a three-decade (816-837 CE) rebellion to eject the Caliphate from Iran.

As cited in the article: “Primary historical sources are clear that Babak was a Persian. One of these is medieval Armenian historian Vardan Areweltsi, approx. 1198-1271 CE (Muyldermans, 1927, p.119).

Plaque-BazzSignpost at Bazz which reads “Let us become familiar/get to know the Castle of Babak”  (Picture source: Historical Iran Blog).

The Iranian Air Force 1924-1941

This article provides a brief synopsis of the Iranian air force in 1924-1941. For a full history, with references and footnotes, readers are referred to Farrokh’s third text Iran at War: 1500-1988 in pages 267,  271-281 (accompanying footnotes in pages 443-445). Readers are also referred to the following article:

The Junkers Services

The Junkers Company had begun operating a civilian air service, providing flights between Tehran, Mashad, Shiraz, Bushehr, Anzali, Baku, western India and Turkey. Junkers aircraft and personnel had been deployed for reconnaissance flights and possibly transport for the Iranian air service in 1924. In that same year, Iran was to take delivery of ten combat aircraft from France, Germany and Russia.

Pic-9-Junkers F13A Junkers W 33 D-1684 of Junkers-Luftverkehr bearing the Persian inscription of “Qomri” (Persian: Ringdove). It is not clear what the man with the stick is doing; perhaps he is guiding the aircraft towards a parking position (Picture Source: Volker Koos & Lennart Andersson).

Official Birth of the Iranian Air Force

The official formation of a distinct Iranian air arm can be officially dated to June 1, 1924. On that day, Reza Khan (not yet Shah on that year) issued a directive separating the Air Office of the Iranian armed services into a distinct branch wholly independent of the army. By June and August 1924, Iranian pilots were training in France and Russia. The air service however had to wait another two years before being officially recognized as the Iranian Air Force on February 24, 1926. By that same year, the Iranian air service possessed a modest total of just three Junkers F.13 aircraft.

By 1926 the number of aircraft in the Iranian air force inventory doubled to 20 machines. This increased to 30 with the arrival of 10 Russian Polikarpov R-5 aircraft by June 1933.

Pic-8-Polikarpov-R5Two of the ten Polikarpov R-5 reconnaissance aircraft purchased from the Soviet Union in 1933; above is aircraft number 33 preparing to take off (Picture Source: Lennart Andersson). Iranian pilots however, disliked this aircraft’s handling characteristics and the type remained unpopular during its tenure with the nascent Iranian air force.

Aircraft Repair and Manufacturing

The Iranians had worked hard to develop their indigenous aircraft maintenance and production facilities since the early days of Reza Shah. By August 1932 technical schools for the repair of aircraft and pilot training had been established.

Pic-3-Iran Air Force Hawker Hind No. 601An Iranian Air Force Hawker Hind No. 601 before the Second World War. Iran received 35 of these by the fall of 1938 with the Shahbaz Aircraft manufacturing plant in Tehran producing another 20 Hawker Hinds in Iran (Photo Source: Artiklar)

More strides were made in 1935. Production machinery for aircraft manufacturing arrived from England, France and the Pratt and Whitney Company of the United States.

The Shahbaz Aircraft manufacturing plant at Doshan Tappeh was formally inaugurated on September 12, 1936. The plant produced ten Hawker Audex combat aircraft that same year under license. Plans were underway to produce more combat aircraft but the onset of World War Two put a halt to these projects.

Pic-2-Hawker Audax bombersA squadron of Hawker Audax bombers, close air support and reconnaissance aircraft stationed in an airfield in southern Tehran prior to the outbreak of World War Two (Photo Source: Cooper, T. & Bishop, F. (2000). Iran-Iraq War in the Air 1980-1988. Atglen, PA: Shiffer Military History, p.11). Ten of these were built in Iran under license in 1936 by the Shahbaz Aircraft manufacturing plant in Tehran. Sixty of these had already been delivered to Iran in 1934. A number of these flew against British and Russian forces during their invasion of Iran in August 1941.

The Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran (August 25 – September 17, 1941)

By the onset of World War Two Iran possessed 122 outdated Hawker series combat aircraft (Audax, Hind and Fury) with only forty of these fit for combat when the Anglo-Soviets invaded Iran in August 1941. Iran also had (approximately) another 160 aircraft (i.e. trainers, transport, etc.) prior to the outbreak of World War Two. The Iranian air force had a total of 1000 trained personnel at the eve of the Anglo-Soviet invasion. Iran’s obsolete aircraft were distributed to the four major airbases in Tehran, Ahvaz, Tabriz and Mashad.

Pic-6-Iran air force-French made-Breguet 19-recce-bomber An Iranian air force French-manufactured Breguet 19 reconnaissance and bomber aircraft. The aircraft delivered to Iran in 1925 were powered by a 450 hp engine. The aircraft was capable of 145 miles per hour and could fly at a maximum ceiling of 21,982 feet (Photo Source at left: Matofi, 1999, p.1054; Color Draft at right: PlaneTalk Forum).

In practice only the ten P-40 Curtis aircraft at Ahvaz air base were capable of challenging British and Russian aircraft, but only one of these had been assembled from its kits. This was flown by an American pilot-mechanic to Iraq as soon as the Anglo-Soviets invaded in August 1941.

Pic-1-Iranian Hawker Fury no. 482Iranian Hawker Fury no. 482 before the war (Photo Source: Matofi, A., 1999, Tarikh-e-Chahar Hezar Sal-e Artesh-e Iran: Az Tamadon-e Elam ta 1320 Khorsheedi, Jang-e- Iran va Araqh [The 4000 Year History of the Army of Iran: From the Elamite Civilization to 1941, the Iran-Iraq War]. Tehran:Entesharat-e Iman, p.1055). Just weeks after the ceasefire (August 28, 1941), two of these from the Qalemorqhi 1st Air Regiment took on five Soviet Polikarpov I-16 fighters on September 17, 1941 over the Caspian Sea. One plane flew by Captain Vassiq was shot down and crashed into the Caspian Sea. The other flown by Wing Operator Shushtari ran out fuel and crashed into the forests of northern Iran (Cooper & Bishop, 2000, pp.12-13).

The total numbers of actual combat and training aircraft in the Iranian air force are believed to have been as follows (numbers subject to revision with further research data):

  • 63 Audax
  • 34 Hind
  • 24 Fury
  • 10 Curtis P40 (Tomahawk) in crates at Ahvaz airbase (only of these was assembled prior to August 25, 1941 Anglo-Russian invasion – this was flown to Iraq by an American mechanic for the aircraft)
  • 3 Oxford
  • 1 (unserviceable) Hurricane
  • 25 Rearward Cloudstar Trainers

The Ahvaz, Tabriz and Mashad air bases were decommissioned after the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in August 1941 but reconstituted after the Second World War.

Pic-7-Shahbaz first Iran domestic fighter A vintage Shahbaz Manufactured De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth II aircraft housed at an Iranian hangar; this is in desperate need of restoration (Photo Source: Copyright “Babak T” – available at Airliners.Net).

Fezana Journal article on Ancient Iranian Women

The Fezana Journal has published an article by Kaveh Farrokh on the ancient women of Iran:

Farrokh, K. (2014). Gender Equality in Ancient Iran (Persia). Fezana Journal (Publication of the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America), Vol. 28, No.1, March/Spring, pp. 105-107.

female-scythian-warriorA reconstruction by Cernenko and Gorelik of the north-Iranian Saka or Scythians in battle (Cernenko & Gorelik, 1989, Plate F). The ancient Iranians (those in ancient Persia and the ones in ancient Eastern Europe) often had women warriors and chieftains, a practice not unlike those of the contemporary ancient Celts in ancient Central and Western Europe. What is also notable is the costume of the Iranian female warrior – this type of dress continues to appear in parts of Luristan in Western Iran. 

As noted in the beginning of the article: “One topic that has received little attention in academia is ancient Iranian warrior women. There are in fact numerous references to ancient Iranian female warriors, from classical sources to post-Islamic Iranian literature.”

Amazon-3-AchaemenidsA reconstruction of a female Achaemenid cavalry unit by Shapur Suren-Pahlav.

It is further averred in the article that: “The rights of women in Achaemenid Persia were remarkably “modern” by today’s standards: women worked in many “male” professions (e.g. carpentry, masonry, treasury clerks, artisans, winery working), enjoyed payment equity with men, attained high-level management positions supervising male and female teams, owned and controlled property, were eligible for “maternity leave,” and received equitable treatment relative to men in inheritance“.

Gun-totting Iranian women-MalayerIranian women from Malayer (near Hamedan in the northwest) engaged in target practice in the Malayer city limits in the late 1950s.  The association between weapons and women is nothing new in Iran; Roman references for example note of Iranian women armed as regular troops in the armies of the Sassanians (224-651 AD).

The legacy of the status of the women of Iran is emphasized in the article as thus: “To this day, women in Iran’s tribal regions continue to be seen wielding their weapons“.

Amazon-7-FereydanshahrIranian tribal woman in shooting competition on horseback at the 2011 Fereydanshahr Olympiad in Iran.

Parthian horses and Parthian Horse Archers

The article on Parthian horses and Parthian (horse) archers below was originally posted in and was written by Beverly Burris-Davis. Readers interested in the military history of Parthia may wish to click the picture below:


Before reading the article below, readers are referred to Pete Darmon’s most recent historical novel on the Parthians entitled Carrhae (for acquisition of this book consult Amazon):


When Arsaces I overthrew the Seleucid governor of Parthia and made himself king in 247 B.C., he set into motion a number of events that would literally change the world, providing he could keep Antiochus III from reclaiming his lost territories, territories conquered in the days of Alexander the Great. The Seleucids as a whole were not a pleasant people and antagonized many of their conquered subjects in the few hundred years that they ruled the Middle East. More interested in breeding war elephants than horses, they influenced the likes of Pyrrhus of Macedonia and Hannibal, who both overestimated the effectiveness of battle elephants in Europe.

The Parthians never took an interest in elephants and instead focused on the one successful means of warfare that worked, the cavalry. Alexander the Great’s cavalry was the decisive factor in many of his battles against the Persians and their allies. And the Scythians, the great horsemen of the Steppes, were responsible for more than their fair share of Persian casualties. Mounted archers on swift horses originally stolen from the Medes, the Scythians and their related tribes were responsible for the deaths and defeats of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, and King Darius, who learned the hard way what a frog, arrow and bird represented to King Idymanthrus of Scythia.

The Parthians also adopted the Scythian bow, a double curve weapon ideal for horseback. The original Persian bow was a single curved weapon that was used by footmen. The Persians themselves seemed to prefer using spears when mounted since it did not require as much skill to kill a lion.

 1-Parthian Coin-Bow-Calgary

Single curve bow on silver tetradrachm of Artaxerxes III Ochus, ca. 333 B.C., 21.7 mm, 15.1 gm (Photo by permission Calgary Coin

One thing the Parthians did not adopt from the Scythians was their horse. The Scythians used several breeds of horse with the golden Akhal-Teke being their preferred mount. Their obsession with golden colored horses resulted in a large number of golden chestnuts and golden bays being found among the tribes and in the Scythian ice tombs. The Russian Don, now inhabiting the region once ruled by the Scythians, comes predominantly in golden chestnut and bay.

The Medes, a relative of the Parthians, raised this animal. But the Akhal-Teke, while possessing great endurance and some speed, was not as fast as the Parthians wanted. The Great Horse of the Persians was the mount they chose. A magnificent animal that came in all colors, including the highly desired palomino and appaloosa, was fast and strong and beautiful. He was also the ultimate riding horse, occasionally producing gaited animals that were highly sought after by everybody from China to Roman Spain.

During the reign of Mithradates II (c. 123 – 88 B.C.), one of the greatest kings of Parthia, Han Wu Ti (156-87 B.C.) of China was looking for an ally against the Xiongnu, a tribe of people who were raising general havoc in China. In 138 B.C., an envoy under the leadership of Zhang Qian was sent west to look for allies among the Yuezhi, a group of people who had once inhabited China. On his first outing Zhang Qian brought news back to the court of a people farther west, a people who raised a breed of horse that would be ideal for the Han cavalry. Sent out again, Zhang Qian suffered captured by the dreaded Xiongnu and didn’t get back home until 125, still without any horses. Determined, Han sent him out again and this time they reached the region of Ferghana, an area famous for its Akhal-Teke horses. According to The Chronicles of Three Kingdoms, Qian (sometime between 105-115 B.C.) found Parthian horses at Erhshih castle, which he had to lay siege to. When Qian eventually returned to China with a dozen Parthian horses and two thousand others, many of these Akhal-Teke types, Wu Ti was so impressed with the Parthian horses that he gave them the name of Heavenly Horses. Over the years, a legend grew up that these horses were descendents of dragons. In fact the Chinese name for the Parthian horse is Soulun, the vegetarian dragon. It was also claimed that the Soulun sweated blood, which may have been caused by a parasite, an interesting parasite that infected no other breed of horse.

 2-Parthian Coin-Tetra

Bronze tetrachalkous of Mithradates II (c. 123 – 88 B.C.), 21 mm, 6.6 gm (Photo by permission Doug Smith’s Ancient Greek & Roman

Reproductions of the Heavenly Horse abound in China. One of the greatest painters was Han Gan of the later Tang dynasty, whose most famous painting is of a groom and two horses. The animals are spirited with strong necks and powerful haunches. Another artist from the Tang (618-906 A.D.) dynasty captured forever a beautiful palomino in ceramic. This very well could be the same horse immortalized on a Tang emperor’s tomb.

 3-Parthian-Hang Gan

Han Gan, Tang Dynasty. Groom and Two Horses (Photo by

We do know that by 386 A.D. (Northern Wei Dynasty) the Chinese were riding Parthian horses and performing their own variation of the Parthian shot. A fresco on the ceiling of Cave 249, Chien-Fo-Tung shows a Chinese horseman using the traditional single curve bow against a lion like creature. The Asiatic lion, while now extinct in most of its former range, was once found from Eastern Europe to China. Hunting this great cat with horses goes as far back as the Assyrians who used chariots. With the arrival of the Great horse, lion hunts became more interesting. Mounted men would attack these magnificent cats with spears and bows, wiping out entire prides on a single hunt.

 Parthian influnece on China

Northern Wei Dynasty. Fresco on Ceiling, Cave 249 (Photo by permission in

But the loss of a dozen horses had no effect on Mithradates’ II reign, although the contact between his empire and China did create the Silk Road, one of the most important trade routes in ancient history. Silks and spices from China went west while horses and military styles went east. Even Yabusame, the Japanese form of archery on horseback, traces back to the Parthian archers, although the Japanese long bow has its traditions in Bushido, the way of the warrior.

 5-Parthian Archer-BM

Ceramic plaque of a mounted archer (British Museum, London (WA 1972-2-29,1 /135684), Photo by Chris

 Assuming the title King of Kings, an Old Persian title, Mithradates II stretched the Parthian empire to its farthest corners. He conquered Characene and recaptured Babylon and Mesopotamia from the Seleucids. He defeated the western Saka, a Scythian tribe related to the old Massagatae, freeing the empire from their depredations. An encounter between the Sakas and Parthians must have been a truly terrible fight, and one can only assume that the presence of the Parthian horse was the deciding factor in the outcome of the battle since both sides fought alike. They were both mounted horseman charging each other in the heat of battle, firing rapidly, deadly and effectively. Both the Sakas and Parthians used chain mail protection on their horses, and Parthian armor was very similar to Scythian armor with plaited rings laced together. The only major difference between the two combatants was the size of their horses. The Sakas on their sleek Akhal-Tekes or sturdy Mongolian-type ponies were a fierce determined people, but the Parthians on their stronger, faster horses were equally determined. The Parthian army proved itself superior to the Sakas, who never really threatened Parthia again.

In 96 B.C., during the reign Mithradates II, the Parthians came into contact with Rome, which was challenging the Seleucid dynasty for control of the Middle East. Seeking an ally against the Seleucids, Rome signed its first treaty with Parthia in 92 B.C., but Rome was an untrustworthy ally. Craving the old kingdom of Alexander the Great, it initiated several wars in the region, as war was a way for Romans to become famous, wealthy, and powerful. Pompey came to fame conquering Asia Minor and Syria in 64 B.C., while Julius Caesar fancied himself ruler of Rome after destroying the mighty Gauls and starting Rome’s campaign in Great Britain.

In 53 B.C., Marcus Licinius Crassus decided to add Parthia to the Roman Empire. His opponent was Surena, one of King Orodes’ II best generals. Surena was a student of Roman tactics and had trained his cavalry well. This cavalry was interesting in that it consisted of a heavy cavalry and a light cavalry. The heavy cavalry, the forerunner of the cataphract, wore steel armor and carried lances and swords. Chain mail protected the horses from their chests to their knees. A small animal would not have been able to carry this and a rider. The Romans had not seen the likes of it before. The light cavalry, on the other hand, was designed for speed with no heavy armor weighing the horses down. The Parthian archers, already gaining fame for their tactics, were ready.

6-Parthian Horseman-Dura

Parthian Light Horse Cavalryman, Graffiti from private houses, Dura Europos. Earlier third century A.D. (After M. Rostovzeff, Caravan Cities, figs. 2 –

Crassus could see the light cavalry, but Surena, who was personally commanding the cataphract, had his equine tanks in hiding. Galloping wildly, the Parthian light cavalry circled the Roman troops and fired ruthlessly into their ranks. Playing a suicidal waiting game, Crassus believed the Parthians would run out of arrows before he ran out of troops, but that was before he spotted Surena riding out of the woods with his heavy cavalry.

Foolishly Crassus sent his son with a 6,000 man mixed force of infantry and cavalry against Surena. Relying on an old Scytho-Parthian trick, Surena retreated, leading the younger Crassus away from the support of his father and the bulk of the Roman troops. At the precise moment, Surena wheeled about and attacked the surprised Romans, who broke before the onslaught of hoof, armor and lance. The Parthian light cavalry swarmed in and picked off the fleeing Romans, although legend says the younger Crassus had his shieldbearer kill him.

Crassus tried to save his troops by retreating to the city of Carrhae, where he stayed two days and organized his troops for a westward retreat. Leaving under the cover of darkness, hoping to avoid the Parthian cavalry, Crassus did not realize that Surena was keeping a close eye on him. The moment the Romans got into open, the Parthian light cavalry attacked. Crassus tried to mount a counter offense at sunrise but was unable to. The number of Roman dead was estimated at twenty thousand, among them Crassus whose head was presented to Orodes II as a war trophy, or so said Plutarch.

Julius Caesar at the time he was assassinated wanted to raise an army and go after the Parthians, who were proving themselves as difficult as the Germans to conquer. But it would be another 17 years before Caesar’s friend Marc Anthony mounted a campaign against the Parthians, who were in turmoil following the assassination of Orodes by his son Phraates. It didn’t hurt that King Artavasdes of Armenia also wanted a piece of the action and allied himself with Rome.

7-Parthian knight-Dura

Parthian Heavy Horse Cavalryman Graffiti from private houses, Dura Europos. Earlier third century A.D. (After M. Rostovzeff, Caravan Cities, figs. 3 –

In 36 B.C., Anthony ravaged the region of Media Atropatene with 16 legions. At his disposal were 100,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, most of these from Spain, a region famous for its proto-Arabian horses introduced into the region by the Phoenicians. He also had with him 30,000 shock troops made up of Roman allies who were unaware of Rome’s habit of sacrificing barbarians first in any attack.

Unwisely, Anthony separated himself from his baggage train and moved against Phraata, the capital of Media, which he hoped to take by storm. The Parthians inside refused to surrender, and Anthony began the arduous task of siege warfare. While he was trying to build a ramp to climb the city’s walls, Phraates attacked the baggage train, killing 10,000 men and destroying Anthony’s siege weapons.

Not one to give up, Anthony counterattacked in perfect Roman fashion. All straight and proper, the Romans marched on the Parthians in the field. So stunned by what they saw, the Parthians did not attack until the Romans initiated it with yells and screams. The Parthians gave ground and out ran the Roman cavalry, at a disadvantage on their smaller Iberian horses. When it was over, Anthony had won with 80 Parthians dead and 30 prisoners. Not much of a victory for this vain Roman. He returned to Phraata and found that his troops on guard there had abandoned the big mound of dirt that they had been building. To punish them, he killed every one in ten men left behind. Talk about a morale booster.

With his army on the verge of mutiny and the Parthian cavalry refusing to face the Romans outright, Anthony accepted Phraates’ offer to leave Parthia with his men under a flag of truce. As Anthony learned, the Parthians were not always to be trusted, but their little ambush fell through, and Anthony made it to Syria. The march was horrible for his men with a long month of climbing mountains and crossing rivers, while the Parthians harassed them the entire way and stole what goods they could get their hands on. This was the last major campaign that Rome mounted against the Parthians, and eventually Crassus’ captured eagles were returned to Rome as a sign of peace.

While all this warfare was going on a great Roman writer lived and documented the world around him. Strabo (63-24 B.C.) wrote that the Parthian horse using its Greek name, Niceaen, was the most elegant riding horse in the entire known world. Not a common sight in the Roman Empire until the Byzantine era, the Niceaens were given as gifts to various Roman emperors.


After Ardashir I (224-241 A.D.) overthrew Artabanus V and founded the Sasanian Empire, the Parthian/Niceaen horse fell into Persian hands, along with the Parthian concept of heavy and light cavalry. At its best, the Sasanian heavy cavalry was a mass of efficient chain mail. This may sound like an exaggeration, but the Persian cataphract consisted of a man completely covered in chain mail with only his eyes visible. The face, neck and forequarters of the horse were covered with links of plate metal laced together. Only a strong horse could carry this much weight and still perform the acts necessary of a good war-horse. The Parthian horse had been bred to be fast and strong, and these traits were still favored by the Sasanians.

The Roman emperor Valerian in A.D. 259 learned the hard way at Edessa to leave the Sasanian clibanarius alone when 70,000 men perished before the heavy cavalry of Shapur I, the son of Ardashir. A rock relief from the tomb of Darius at Naqsh-e-Rostam shows Emperor Valerian and one of his allies kneeling before Shapur I on a magnificent Parthian stallion.

8-Shapur I

Victory of Shapur I over Rome, third century A.D., Naqsh-e-Rostam,

 Strabo called the Parthian the most elegant riding horse in the Roman Empire, he was fast enough to beat Spanish horses that were reputed to be the fastest up until that time, and he was strong enough to be the backbone of the cataphract. In addition to this, the Parthian horse was beautiful. Artwork of him from China shows a proud elegant animal, and when Emperor Justinian introduced them to the Spain during the Visigoth Wars, the Parthian horse became the rootstock for the Andalusian and Lusitano. These horses in turn were ancestors to the American Quarterhorse, Appaloosa and Tigerhorse. The use of Spanish racehorses to improve English racehorses prior to the immortal three would also lead this author to believe that the size and strength of the Thoroughbred comes from his Parthian ancestors, not the small desert breeds the English hold in such high esteem.


Detail, sarcophagus of the “Triclinium of Maqqai”, c. A.D. 229, Palmyra,

 The Crusaders also dispersed Byzantine bred Parthian horses throughout Europe, in particular the Normans who destroyed the imperial stud when they sacked Constantinople. Horses were taken to France and Italy, which used the Parthian horse to create the now extinct Neapolitan breed. The Neapolitan had an enormous influence on the Lippizaner, giving the stallions a stronger build and more masculine appearance. It might also be said that the arts that these beautiful animals perform have their roots in the ancient empires of Persia and Parthia. The Greeks wrote about dressage, but it was the Parthian horse that performed it, and whether you call him Niceaen, Soulun, Heavenly Horse or Parthian horse, the loss of this great breed was a tragedy.


Annadale’s Love Story, a Tiger Horse stallion. Photo by permission, The Tiger Horse


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