Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Banner Bearers

Excerpted from the Armies of Angkor, by Michel Jacq-Hergoualc'h 

Khmer banner bearers to be exact. One of the factions from the Garden of Kama setting is largely based upon the medieval Khmer armies as detailed in the book this illustration is taken from: The Armies of Angkor: Military Structure and Weaponry of the Khmers, by Michel Jacq-Hergoualc'h. 

According to this work the armies were accompanied by large numbers of musicians as well as these acrobatic banner bearers who are shown balancing the banners on forehead, chin and - if the illustration is to be believed - lower back! (In this case the illustration is a reproduction of a carving at the palace of Angkor Wat.)

A modern-day variant of flag balancing is still practiced in various areas in SE Asia. 

For the Garden of Kama setting I have commissioned some banner bearers to follow behind the army. At the same time I've been trying my hand at drawing up some banners in Corel Draw...

I've made over 60 designs so far. Each banner is 90mm tall before being put on a pole. The intent is to get the figures sculpted with the banner-base as part of the figure - on the forehead or chin, for example. That will provide a point to drill a support hole with a pin vise to allow the banner to be attached. I've done so many designs because I want each unit to be accompanied by a party of banner bearers, with each banner being different.

In addition to making for a colourful display, there could be a practical benefit to mark casualties (as in Hail Caesar, for example) by removing a banner for each "hit" the unit takes. 

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