Russian Plastic Tlingit Warrior Models. And more!

Model of a Tlingit warrior. Source:, click for original page.

Well, there’s another headline I never thought I’d write!  Don’t ask me how I found it but these Russian guys have a passion for modelling human figures and one of their subjects is a Tlingit warrior.  It’s actually pretty impressive, with slat armour faithfully rendered, a wooden helmet and the circular gorget or throat protector. Scroll around on that forum for more images of the model.  We’ve looked at Tlingit slat armour on this site once before, as well.  The narrow slit between the helmet and the gorget or collar might seem exaggerated, but it agrees with this picture (also perhaps exaggerated) and this drawing, both apparently from Russian sources.

But there was an ancillary benefit to looking through this Russian-language forum: one of the participants has scanned some amazing pages of Tlingit art and artifacts from a Russian book, stuff I had never seen before that perhaps has its origins in colonial Russian Alaska.

Tlingit slat armour. Text seems to indicate it was collected in 1804. Source:

On the forum pages you can see a number of these illustrations ( a lot of the Russian text seems to be complaining about how hard it is to upload pictures – thanks babelfish) – or you can go to user “Sergey’s” photo pages here – click on the numbers down the left hand side to scroll through about 30 pages of this Russian language book of Tlingit items (plus some other images), and click on the little magnifying glass to the lower left of each picture for a decent resolution.  At both the forum and Sergey’s picture site there are also a number of other illustrations, dioramas and so forth of traditional Tlingit life – some of these must be from Russian museums, while others are not.  Anyway, it is fun to browse even if, like me, your Russian vocabulary is limited to “Vodka” and “Da, Natascha”.

Tlingit hide armour. Note leather neck protector. Source:

Model Tlingit warrior with helmet and gorget removed. Source:

12 responses to “Russian Plastic Tlingit Warrior Models. And more!

  1. ” Don’t ask me how I found it “: I think we can reverse engineer the answer to that one. Search engine terms entered “russian model” probably 🙂

    The Tlingit armour is a fascinating subject, covered in some depth by George MacDonald of course; how far south did the rod armour extend? Lots of evidence for thick layered elk hide, glued-on pebbles, etc, further south on the coast (all the way to California? I can’t remember) and into the BC Interior. But rod armour per se is harder to get evidence for.


    • Search engine terms entered “russian model” probably

      Oh my God, I got burned, and it took me 24 hours to realize it.

      At least now people searching for Russian Models will have a fighting chance of getting a good date ….. with a lower standard deviation.


  2. Thanks for finding this Quentin, its got some really interesting photos in that modelling thread. This one for example is the interior of a house, showing many interesting things. There are enormous rain hats, some very tall ringed hats (= # of potlatches given if I remember G. MacDonald again I think), a young initiate wearing a ceremonial cedar bark neck ring, what look like a blunderbuss and double-barrelled gun, a long telescope, a warrior’s helmet, a giant mask perhaps of a decapitated head, (maybe just a dozy warrior?), and some stupendous artwork on the screen and house posts. Are the house-posts false-fronts? They don’t seem to match the size of the much smaller roof beams.

    Never seen these images before, nice find!


  3. Oh, good eyes Morley, I didn’t notice that. I checked it out at the stupendous Alaska Digital Archives and found it, with more information plus another view:,633,634

    Outside of same house:,632

    Outside of same house with people and wooden head,631

    Interior of Chief Klart-Reech’s House, Chilkat, Alaska. Indians in old dancing costumes. c. 1895.
    Description Title taken from image. Eleven men and youth on platform in the Whale House, with two bent-wood boxes, woodworm dish, rainwall screen and house posts of raven and the girl and the woodworm in background. Photographer’s number 193.

    I think the “woodworm dish” is the log with the face carved in the end on the topmost bench.

    It’s apparently a “Winter and Pond” photograph, see the book by Victoria Wyatt:



  4. what are the parts of the tlinget wooden body armor


  5. Hi nicholas,

    You will find a full description starting on page 585 of Volume II of “under Mt St Elias” by Frederica de Laguna.

    You can find download links to these large volumes at the bottom of this post:

    Also check Volume III for pictures, such as this one which have some terms in their captions and is Suria’s Figure 51 as per text below which is from de Laguna Volume II (you’ll need the original to get past the OCR errors):

    “The fighting Indians wear all their arms, a
    breast-plate, back armor, a helmet with a visor
    or at least what serves that purpose. The breast
    and back armor are a kind of coat of mail of boards
    two fingers thick, joined by a thick cord which
    after being herbirlis by as [front] and emhes [back]
    [the reference is to twining] with much union and
    equality joins them. In this junction the thread
    takes an opposite direction, it being the case that
    even here the arrows cannot pass through, much
    less in the thickest part of the boards. This breast
    plate is bound to the body by the back. They wear
    an apron or armor from the waist to the knees of
    the same character which must hinder their walking.
    Of the same material they cover the arm from the
    shoulder to the elbow, on the legs they use some
    leggings which reach to the middle of the thigh,
    the hau- inside. [A note by W. A. Newcombe of
    Victoria, includes the reference: “Walter Hough in
    the Repoit oj the National Museum, Washington,
    for 1893 (p. 637), states that there are four sets
    of armor coUected by Malaspina m 1791 in the
    Museo Arqueologico, Madrid. He questions the
    collectmg locahby but I would certainly say Yakutat
    Bay. N.”].
    [No para,] “They construct the helmet of various
    shapes; usually it is a piece of wood, very sohd and
    thick, so much so, that when I put on one it weighed
    the same as if it had been of iron. They always have
    a great figure ui front, a young eagle or a kmd of
    parrot [sic; some crest bird, evidently], and to cover
    the face they lower from the helmet a piece of wood
    which surrounds this and hangs from some pieces of
    leather in the middle of the head to unite with another
    one which comes up from the chin. They join at the
    nose, leaving the junction for the place through
    which to see.

    [No para,] “It is to be noted that before they put
    this armor on they put on a robe hke that of the
    women but heavier and thicker, and with certain
    kinds of work.
    [No para,] “They hang catucas [carcaj{-es)7,
    quiver (s)] and the bow they put over the arm to
    which it hangs back of the shoulders. They clasp a
    short lance, a knife, and a hatchet. Such is the equip-
    ment of a warrior. The lance is a heavy stick of
    black wood [“western yew,” according to Newcombe],
    very weU worked, and at the point they tie on the
    blade of a great knife which they obtain from English-
    men in exchange for their skins. The knife which they
    carry in their belt is the same as ours for the same
    reason. The hatchet is a black stone of the size,
    figure, and edge of our iron hatchet [the so-caUed
    “long-handled adze” like a shipwright’s adz, ac-
    cording to Newcombe; or probably the war pick].
    They fasten it to a heavy stick and make use of it
    in war and in their other necessities. The bows and
    arrows are the same as those of all other Indians.
    AU this I know because an Indian who armed him-
    self for us to see it, pointed it all out to us by signs,”
    [Wagner, 1936, pp, 255-256.]
    Surfa’s picture of the warrior (pi, 51) shows that the
    wooden helmet is carved to represent a human head,
    with a bunch of feathers or fur at the top. Most of his
    face, not just the eyes, is visible between the wooden
    collar and the brim of the helmet. The wooden armor
    f alls in two tiers, from shoulder to waist, and from waist
    to just above the knees. The undergarment of skin has
    loose sleeves to the wrist, and the fringed bottom
    reaches the ankles. He wears moccasins or boots.


  6. maybe you forgot that you also link to some good photos of replicated armor in this blog:


  7. Sir- where can I buy some of these?!…


  8. The bevor (neck-face guard) had a toggle in it midway up that could be grasped by the teeth, to raise and lower it.


  9. Pingback: closed therad, thanks a lot garorboy.

  10. Where can I get these warrior models?


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