Ottoman Bashi-Bazouk Chieftain 1881
The term bashi-bazouk derives from the Turkish “başibozuk” which means: crazy head. This word was used to describe some irregular troops of the Ottoman army in the 18th century.
These troopers were recruited among nomads, homeless, criminals, foreign mercenaries and volunteers. The majority of them did not have Ottoman origins but came from Balkan countries conquered by the Ottomans. Bashi-Bazouk were brutal and undisciplined, they were armed and maintained by the government but did not receive any salary. They were not allowed to display any insignia or flags. They could fight either mounted or on foot and they were experts skirmishers.
They always walked in front of the regular army with the duty of being the first to engage the enemy and cause as much damage as possible to the point of sacrificing their own lives. During peacetime they did not live on garrison as regular troops did but encamped in the suburbs of Constantinople and spent the time dancing, gambling and getting drunk.
Bashi-Bazouk did not wear a standardized uniform. They wore cloth or leather vests over silk skirts with wide sleeves and baggy trousers. The chieftains wore white pleated skirts as traditionally still in use today by the Greek army. Knee-high leggings and leather shoes were typical. They were usually armed with two pistols and a short sword kept in place by a wide leather belt, as well as a front loading style rifle. The figurine represents a bashi-bazouk while posing on a Ottoman style sofa and smoking through a narghile.
The Bashi-Bazouk’s uniform was not standardized therefore o colour code is not given.
The artist is free to use his own fantasy or get inspiration from Jean Leon Gerome’s painting as shown on the spaces dedicated to this great painter on the web.
Sculptor: Sergey Lupanov
Painter: Isaac Jaramillo
Historical research: Engin Kayral