Cuirass and sagum


The antique-looking torso is dressed in the traditional suit of armour of an aristocratic warrior in Ancient Rome: a cuirass over a tunic, and a sagum, or short mantle. The muscle cuirass is adorned with allegorical reliefs and ornaments, producing a great aesthetic impact and, moreover, features signs of high social status: the rich trimming bespeaks the wearer’s elevated position in the hierarchy. It ought to be mentioned that this sort of armour had enhanced durability because of its slightly curved, “pleated” surface that absorbed blows. The folds of the dress, sagum and tunic, provide a contrast to the solidity of the cuirass. Made of a dense but soft fabric, the sagum envelops the shoulders in liberally-streaming folds, bringing forth soothing arch-like rhythms. The ornamentally-trimmed hem of the tunic runs down from under the cuirass in thin fluid lines, reasserting the warrior’s status: only an expensive fabric of fine weave can arrange itself so elegantly in folds. The unity of opposites – raw force and tenderness, strength and refinement – produces a full-blooded image rich with a variety of connotations. The absence of the head and limbs lays open to the viewer a terrain of liberal associations for exploration, in which the viewer can use his imagination to complete the image as he prefers.

 

Brief annotations to the image

CUIRASS is a kind of armour protecting the soldier’s body from strokes of a weapon; it consists of one or several interconnected iron plates. Warriors in Ancient Rome wore muscle cuirasses made of bronze that mimicked the physique of a muscled body.

SAGUM, in the Roman Empire, was a mantle worn by warriors; made of a piece of dense wool fabric and knee-long, it served to warm the body during long marches.