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Norman J. Finkelshteyn

Silver belt buckles found in Anatolia.
Probably Artukid Emirate, 2nd quarter, 13th century.

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A number of Belt Plates
By Steven Baker

Belts were an important part of a nomad's equipment. They were used to carry their bowcases, quivers, knives and swords. They were also used as a gift to signify a person's standing with their Khan, Sultan, Amir or Leader.

12th Century Seljuk Belt Plaques

Iranian buckle - front
Iranian buckle - side Iranian buckle - underneath
Belt Buckle. Greater Iran 12th - Early 13th Century, Bronze.

The buckle above is one I photographed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a good view of the rear of the buckle to see how it joined together. From what I could see I would say the right hand ring slots into a catch on the back of the lion.


Buckles with motif. Cast, engraved. 5.6x5.6x0.5cm
I've recently come across a couple of additional belt plaques. These are from a Kazakhstan grave find. They are listed as 'Chance finds from a warrior's grave near village of Chingeldy, Alma-Ata region. Xlll-XIV centuries. Museum of Archaeology of Academy of Sciences'. Interestingly they are referred to as being belt buckles - yet they would seem to be belt plaques. I consider them to be belt plaques, as they do not have they fittings normally associated with belt buckles such as a loop and a belt plate. However a close look at the first picture shows what seems to be a vertical bar on the back.

Belt buckle in the form of a flower. Hammered, chased, engraved. 2.2x2.1 cm

This could just be away of allowing it to slide on the belt to adjust its position. Equally it could be that the buckle arrangement is behind the face perhaps a hook or knob. The other thing to note is that the first buckle/plaque has a size of 5.6 centimetres, which would make for a fairly wide belt.

Plaque (umbon) with stylized animals' heads motif and a vine with punched pattern 9.5x9x1.5cm

I've also included two umbons, which are from the "Lebedevka burial ground Uralskaya district. XII-XIV centuries. Excavated by N. Bagrikov. Museum of Archaeology of Academy of Sciences". Again we have one that is fairly large which either means a very wide belt or it was used for something else.

Plaque (umbon). 3.7x3.7x0.4 cm

This is a restructured and reorganised version of the information on Steppes Nomad Belt fittings presented at Steven Baker's Steppes Nomad Resource Site -

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