The Parthian general’s bodyguard consists of the finest men mustered from the Pârnî and together form a headstrong shock cavalry force who fight as cataphracts.
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The Spâhbâdê Pahlavânig, literally ”Parthian general”, rode out to war with a bodyguard retinue consisting of fiercely loyal men, accustomed since early childhood in the skills of riding the horse and practical archery. These are the finest men mustered by the Pârnî tribe, and naturally the harsh steppes produced men of certain toughness, these being the handpicked champions emphasizing the martial ardour of the Pahlavân. They ride the most magnificent Nisaean chargers, ideal for the shock cavalry task, and they are beyond their famed skills in horsemanship armed with the finest equipment of the nomadic Pahlavân armies. Their primary weapon, the kontos or literally a “barge-pole” in Greek, was a devastating lance, thicker and longer than the Hellenic xyston, held with two hands and in the hands of a skilled cavalryman could easily penetrate armour. Other than the kontos they are also armed with a Scythian-style longsword, and composite bows. They are magnificently clad in the long “Web-like” cataphract armour of lamellar, extending from the neck and shoulders down to the lower calves, effectively covering almost the entire body. Their heads are adorned by a modified Greek-style helmet, carrying the torch of an infamous earlier Scythian practice of capturing enemy equipment. Their strong mounts are armoured by the classical Massageto-Persian style of chamfrôn and peytrel, though also lamellar rather than scale. Though the equipment was by no means strictly uniform, being the retinue of a wealthy, and influential general, it is reasonable to believe that the appearance of the regiment was kept at the very least somewhat consistently.
Historically, not much is actually known about how the earliest Parthian, or more accurately, the Âpârnî heavy cavalry may have looked like. There are some controversial exhibits, such as the Orlat battle-plaques as well as the mints of Indo-Scythian rulers, as well as earlier Achaemenid, Scythian, Massagetae and even Hellenic influences. The interpretation shown here is a mélange of different cultures, with especially Persian and Scythian influences emphasized, as both had the knowledge and the technology of making lamellar armour, with traditions of horse armour (Zên-Âbzar) also deeply rooted in Iranic equestrian traditions. Though an extra-heavy cavalry, they are more comparable in class to the earlier Achaemenid Hûvakâ and the extra-heavy Successor heavy cavalry, than to the later Parthian super-heavy cavalry. The decisive difference, rather than armour to said cases would have been horsemanship.