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Author Topic: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire  (Read 482 times)

Offline Jack Jones

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Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« on: September 11, 2021, 08:00:24 PM »
Hi All

I wonder if anyone here might know a bit more about the attire of the Amarar tribe ‘friendlies’ described by E Gambier Parry in Suakin, 1885 – being a sketch of the campaign of this year (p90):

‘We had also at this time one or two “friendlies” of the Amarar tribe, who kept watch with our men during the night. … These “friendlies” wore a scarlet serge blouse and carried spears and shields, and they were regularly in our pay.’

I am curious about the ‘blouse’ – what sort of garment was this?

Cheers
JJ

Offline John Boadle

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2021, 08:51:09 PM »
In the mid-nineteenth century a "blouse" meant a loose outer garment, such as might also be called a smock or an overshirt. It usually had very full sleeves, gathered at the wrist like a shirt. It would be hip length and another typical feature was that it only unbuttoned part way down the front. Finally, there was usually a small falling collar. The garment could be worn loose, or belted at the waist, or tucked into belted trousers. Typical material was cotton, linen or canvass. This item of clothing was the standard outer dress of working men on the European continent, though not so much in Britain or the US. Garibaldi's "redshirts" actually wore red blouses of this kind, which popularised the garment somewhat. I seem to remember reading that a visit to London by Garibaldi was the start of women wearing blouses in the sense of a loose shirt-like garment tucked into a skirt. So at a later point the word came to refer exclusively to this women's' garment.

I would think that what's meant here is a loosely-cut outer garment made up to distinguish "friendlies" from otherwise similar but very hostile tribesmen. We cannot really guess from the quote in what style these "blouses" were cut however. They might have been like the classic men's garment I've described, or they might have been more in the style of a very plain, loose service tunic/ "frock". Or they could even have been something like a "jibbah", to suit the local style.

Offline Jack Jones

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2021, 10:19:41 PM »
Thank you for the extensive explanation, John.

I was wondering if a red jibbah might be a possibility …

Cheers
JJ
« Last Edit: September 11, 2021, 10:21:53 PM by Jack Jones »

Offline Emir of Askaristan

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2021, 07:25:18 AM »
Interesting thread.
I'd not heard of these guys before so I went a googling. Pictures didn't appear to show Amarar tribesmen looking much different from beja. Being a Beja tribe I doubt if they would have worn a jibbah.

However I did find these period pics which show some tribesmen wearing coloured vests or waistcoats over their white/off white clothes. Nothing to identify them as Amarar though.

A coloured sash or similar piece of clothing to the above be enough to pick them out on 28mm or smaller figs.

Offline Jack Jones

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2021, 09:45:02 AM »
I was also wondering about the ‘waistcoat’ … some Perry Miniatures’ figures are cast with this look … but I imagine that the garment might be larger – a clearer signal of their non-hostile nature.

Offline Deflatermouse

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2021, 10:06:06 AM »
I always took Amarar to mean Amhara or Ethiopians. I have used a couple of Abyssinian figures as my scouts at times.

Offline Emir of Askaristan

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2021, 04:26:32 PM »
I was also wondering about the ‘waistcoat’ … some Perry Miniatures’ figures are cast with this look … but I imagine that the garment might be larger – a clearer signal of their non-hostile nature.

Possibly, if blouse is mentioned.I can imagine some old uniform jackets being handed out to mark them as friendlies. But then the NNC in the Zulu war only had a read headband to mark them out.

Show us what you decide!

Offline Plynkes

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2021, 08:30:10 AM »
Friendly scouts were issued old British redcoats in one of the conflicts in southern Africa, I think one of the Ndebele wars, perhaps. So it wasn't entirely unknown.


Such a cast-off jacket wouldn't be called a blouse, though (it would likely be a tunic or a frock, unless it was pretty old). In military parlance a blouse was a long, loose-fitting shirt, such those worn by Garibaldi's Redshirts.




With Cat-Like Tread
Upon our prey we steal...

Offline Plynkes

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2021, 08:50:05 AM »
I always took Amarar to mean Amhara or Ethiopians. I have used a couple of Abyssinian figures as my scouts at times.

There were Ethiopian scouts involved in the 1884 campaign. But the Amarar (who are a subgroup of the Beja) did contribute 'friendlies' numbering in the hundreds during the 1885 campaign.

Brian Robson, who goes into wargamer levels of detail about the British uniforms of the campaign, in a very handy appendix in one of his books, doesn't mention how the Amarar were dressed.





Offline Jack Jones

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Re: Suakin 1885, Amarar allies attire
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2021, 08:58:07 PM »
I feel some sculpting coming on 😬

Caton Woodville’s The Soudan Expedition: a pool in the desert (from 1884 seems) to show Beja guides in their traditional dress:

https://www.meisterdrucke.uk/fine-art-prints/Richard-Caton-Woodville-junior/155072/The-Soudan-Expedition,-a-Pool-in-the-Desert-.html#top

🤔

 

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