Tomyris (6th century BCE), the warrior queen of the Massagetae, was the woman who defeated and killed Cyrus the Great. In revenge for Cyrus’s trickery and the death of her son, Tomyris led her troops into battle against the Persians, routing them in what Herodotus described as the fiercest battle the “barbarians” had ever engaged in (they were all barbarians to Herodotus). Tomyris famously had Cyrus’s corpse beheaded and his skull made into a drinking cup. Or so the story goes.
Whatever the details of Cyrus’s death, the fact is that there were very definitely warrior women and queens among the ancient Iranian tribes of the Eurasian steppes, including the Massagetae. So we’re going to dress Tomyris as the warrior woman she was, basing our design on the excavated clothing from tomb burials. The illustrations above (by Angus McBride) show a noblewoman; a queen would probably have more bling and some gold armor.
Fortunately, the basic steppe costume of tunic + pants survives in many cultures across Eurasia. A churidar or salwar kameez is a particularly useful version for this situation, since the proportions are almost exactly right. The pieces we suggest, from left to right:
1. Salwar kameez. If you don’t already have a suit that would work, this is a great choice. It’s long-sleeved, earthy, has a simple geometric design—we love it.
2. Phrygian cap. Yes, it’s really a Robin Hood cap, but you’re going to turn it around so the point faces forward. That will make it a Phrygian cap, which is what the steppe tribes wore.
3. Short suede boots. Tuck your trouser legs into the boots, just like the illustration.
4. Jeweled sword with faux leather sheath. This one has a handy belt loop, too. (Wear a leather belt.)
5. Gold armor wristlets. You are a warrior, after all. And a queen.
6. Skull drinking cup. Carry it with you and tell everyone it’s the skull of Cyrus the Great. (This might not be a good idea if there will be any Persians at your party.)