A brief introduction to the Almoravids can be found in our review of the HaT set of infantry for this Berber people. Infantry was the main element of Almoravid armies, but most Almoravid cavalry would be classed as light, and so covered by the figures in this set. They performed the same duties as light cavalry anywhere, scouting and covering the flanks of the infantry, and were dressed in much the same way as most of their countrymen. This means quite loose comfortable robes including a turban and the one distinctive feature of these people – the veil covering the mouth, called the litham. All the figures in this set conform to this form of dress apart from two of the four poses having no veil. This seems strange indeed, although perhaps they are meant to be some of the many foreign warriors that fought in their ranks, however many of these too took to wearing the litham.
Traditionally these men carried javelins two to three metres in length, along with a straight sword and a knife. The javelins could be used as missiles or for stabbing, and three of these poses have them raised in the air such that they could be used either way. Not surprisingly they wore no armour, although they often carried a round shield, as do three of the four poses on offer here. With the reservation about the face veils we found everything here to be accurate, and the human poses to be a little two-dimensional but perfectly serviceable.
The Almoravids were widely seen as superb horsemen, and better than those from al Andalus. They rode small but nimble horses, but the four different horses in this set are the same as those in the other HaT sets of Almoravid and al Andalus cavalry. This makes them something of a compromise, but in truth there is nothing really wrong with any of these animals, and all the saddles and decoration looks reasonable to us. The animals themselves are not amongst the better examples of the sculptor’s art, with some strange proportions, but the poses are fundamentally sound and will do the job in our view.
The sculpting of the figures is better than that of the horses, with good proportions and a reasonable representation of the flowing robes these men wear. All the weapons and shields come as part of the figure, so the javelins are relatively flat compared to figures with ring hands, but suitable twisting and resetting of hands will remedy that if desired. The poses then are reasonable, as is the sculpting, and there is no flash to speak of either.
Although an unremarkable collection of figures it is hardly the sort of subject that will attract many producers, so those looking to build an Almoravid army won’t have a lot of choice. Having said that this set is perfectly usable for the intended task, and will be an essential for anyone modelling the upheavals in North Africa in the later 11th century, as well as offering much potential for other horsemen of North Africa for a long period.