When we hear the word “war mask”, an armored samurai warrior will come in mind. The Men-yoroi, as what his mask was called, could be made of iron or leather, and coated with lacquer. It protected his face and secured his helmet, plus the demonic features could intimidate his hapless victims crossing his path.

But war masks weren’t exclusive to the samurai.

The use of protective mask, carved with human or demonic features could be found in various warrior cultures or ancient armed forces. And this includes a well-trained fighting force that became crucial for the spread of an empire. The Roman Cavalry.

For many people, war masks aren’t associated with the legion. Often times a soldier clad in red tunic, covered in segmented plate armor and armed with short sword, shield and spear is how people defined the Roman armed forces. Times changed though, and the Roman Legion would eventually march in the battle clad in mail. But in the case of the cavalry, a shiny mask bearing cold expression was sometimes worn both in sporting events, or in the actual battle.

The Roman Cavalry
Reenactors dressed as Roman cavalrymen.

The primary strength of the Roman army was its infantry. But like many of the effective fighting forces of ancient times, the Roman army also boasted their own mounted soldiers. When facing the enemy, the Roman Cavalry would go for the opposing mounted units first. They will then attack in many directions to disrupt the enemy line, and to confuse their commander. In the Late Roman Empire, skirmishes were done by mounted archers and light cavalrymen, while the heavy cavalrymen positioned themselves in the wings of the infantry formation.

For equipment, they wore helmets, armors (mail or scales) and greaves. They wielded weapons like the spatha, (a longer version of the short infantry gladius), lances and throwing spears. And going back to their headgear, the helmets were a variation of Corinthian type. And together with their helmets, the soldiers also wore