Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hellenic Armorer

Given that my interests range from Mycenae to the Middle Byzantine and most things in between I was pleasantly surprised when I got to see the Hellenic Armor’s website.  While the site is mainly  in Greek you can switch on Google translator to help you out.

Many armourers come from a purely technical background. They rely on the research work of others and while their technical skills are excellent their research lets them down. Or they use tools and techniques that weren’t around during the period. Hellenic Armors are all hand forged (without machine hammers) in Greece by their creator Dimitris Katsikis.

Three reconstructed Byzantine "klibanos" natural size from the private collection of Dimitris Katsikis hosted as exhibits in the hall of the Museum Dumbarton Oaks Museum and Research Library in Washington DC. The transport of exhibits held under international symposium titled "Warfare in the Byzantine World, Military Men in Byzantium, Emperors, Saints, and Soldiers at Arms" which took place between April 30 - May 2, 2010 at the premises of the Research Centre in the organization of Byzantine history professor John Ialdon (Princeton University) and Gudrun Buehl (Curator of Dumbarton Oaks Museum). A Kataphrakt panoply is on its way...

As part of the Programme of Cultural Events "Science - Society-E Circle" on "The War in the time of Byzantium" held between 01 - 29/03/2011 at the National Research Foundation under the organization of the Institute of Byzantine Research (IBR ), attendees had the opportunity to see Byzantine armor reconstructions based on archaeological and artistic monuments of the era (10th-13th century). Creator of the exhibits is Dimitris Katsikis who after a successful report to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Trustees for Harvard University) in Washington DC launched the first part of the works of the Greek public. The circle opened talks with the speech of the Director of the Institute of Byzantine Research Professor Commander G. Kollias.

Dimitris  is frank and admits that the “linothorax question” is far from settled and that the literary and archaeological evidence is insufficient to make hard and fast pronouncements. However, he has examined the research material available, archaeological finds and the variety of armour typologies represented in the iconography of vases and sculpture to inform his construction techniques. In each of the examples he has on his web site he cites the inspiration for his work.

Dimitris has four linothorakes on his website and admits these are experimental reconstructions. In each case he explains the sources he has relied upon to inform his construction decisions. His approach is refreshingly honest and avoids the exaggeration made by some suppliers only interested in making a dollar from the public. To date Dimitris has invested a lot of time in research at the same time as continuing his busy professional life.  What I like about his stuff is that it doesn’t look like a flimsy Halloween costume.

He has made Sasanian armour based on the Dura-Europos drawing, has had his ancient Greek armour exhibited in Korea and in May - August 2010 his replicas of Byzantine armour were displayed during the exhibition Military Men in Byzantium: Emperors, Saints, and Soldiers at Arms at Dumbarton Oaks. His works were also exhibited at " War in the time of Byzantium " event held between 1st – 29th May, 2011 at the National Research Foundation under the auspices of the Institute of Byzantine Research (IBR) in Greece.

Below is the experimental klibanion based on the 11th C fresco of St Nestor in Kastoria Greece. You are too late to buy this one it has a new home but I am sure Dimitris can make you one!

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