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In-Box Review
Janissary Infantry
Janissary Infantry of Ottoman Empire, 16th century
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by: Engin Kayral [ GRAYWOLF ]

Originally published on:
Historicus Forma

about the figure

Janissary also spelled Janizary derives from the Ottoman Turkish: Yeniceri which means new soldier or new troop; indicating they were an alternative to the old regular army. In other terms; a Janissary is a member of the elite corps of the Sultan in the standing army of the Ottoman Empire from the late 14th century to 1826. The Janissaries have been likened to the Roman Praetorian Guard and they had no equivalent in the Christian armies of the time, where the feudal lords raised troops during wartime. A Janissary regiment was effectively the soldier's family. They lived in their barracks and served as policemen and firefighters during peacetime.

Sultan Murad I founded the units around 1365. The first Janissary units comprised war captives and slaves. After the 1380s Sultan Mehmet I used a system called Devsirme to form Janissary units. Sultan’s men conscripted a number of non-Muslim, usually Christian Balkan boys, taken at birth at first at random, later, by strict selection – to be trained. Initially they favoured Greeks, Albanians and Bulgarians, usually selecting about one boy from forty houses, but the numbers could be changed to correspond with the need for soldiers. Boys aged 14-18 were prefered, though ages 8-20 could be taken. The devsirme was extended to also include Bosnians, Serbians, Croatians and other Balkan countries, later especially Ukraine and southern Russia. The Janissaries started accepting enrollment from outside the devsirme system first during the reign of Sultan Murad III (1546-1595) and completely stopped enrolling this system in 17th century. After this period, volunteers mostly of Muslim origin were enrolled.

Janissaries trained under strict discipline with hard labour and in practically monastic conditions in Acemi Oglan (rookie or cadet) schools, where they were expected to remain celibate. They were also expected to convert to Islam. All did because Christians were not allowed to bear arms in the Ottoman Empire until the 19th century. Unlike other Muslims, they were expressly forbidden to wear beards (a Muslim custom), only a moustache. The Janissaries wore uniforms, were paid in cash as regular soldiers, and marched to distinctive music,Mehter,, similar to a modern marching band. All of these features set the Janissaries apart from most soldiers of the time. Although the Janissary corps no longer exist , the tradition of Mehter music is carried on as a cultural and tourist attraction.

Janissaries belonged to the Sultan, carrying the title Kapıkulu (door slave) indicating their collective bond with the Sultan. Janissaries were taught to consider the corps as their home and family, and the Sultan as their de facto father. The corps was organized in Orta (equivalent to regiment). An orta was headed by Corbaci. All ortas together would comprise the proper Janissary corps and its organization named ocak (literally hearth). The Sultan was the supreme commander of the Army and the Janissaries in particular, but the corps was organized and led by their Supreme Aga (commander). The corps was divided into three sub-corps:Cemaat; frontier troops, Beylik; Sultan’s own guards and Sekban. In addition there was also ortas of the Acemi (cadets).

The Janissary force became particularly significant when the foot soldier carrying firearms proved more effective than the cavalry equipped with sword and spear. Janissaries adopted firearms very early, starting in 15th century. By the 16th century, the main weapon of the Janissary was the musket. Janissaries also made extensive use of early grenades and hand cannon. The auxiliary support system of the Janissaries also set them apart from their contemporaries. The Janissaries waged war as one part of a well organized military machine. The Ottoman army had a corps to prepare the road, a corps to pitch the tents ahead, a corps to bake the bread. The Cebeci corps carried and distributed weapons and ammunition. The Janissary corps had its own internal medical auxiliaries: Muslim and Jewish surgeons who would travel with the corps during campaigns and had organized methods of moving the wounded and the sick to traveling hospitals behind the lines.

The Ottoman empire used Janissaries in all its major campaigns, including the 1453 capture of Constantinople, the defeat of the Egyptian Mamluks and wars against Hungary and Austria. Janissary troops were always led to the battle by the Sultan himself, and always had a share of the booty.
Janissaries’ reputation increased to the point that by 1683, Sultan Mehmet IV abolished the Devsirme system as increasing numbers of originally Muslim Turkish families had already enrolled their own sons into the force hoping for a lucrative career. Every governor wanted to have his own Janissary troops. But over time, the Janissaries were so successful that they grew into one of the strongest power institutions in the Ottoman Empire. As Janissaries became aware of their own importance they began to desire a better life. In 1449 they revolted for the first time, demanding higher wages, which they obtained. They exercised this strength to influence the policy and to defend their own interests many times. From the 17th century and on, they staged many palace coups to exercise this power. But this would eventually be the main reason for their downfall ; their strength made them dangerous to the sultan, and they were abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in The Auspicious Incident. All Janissary troops were killed or banished.

Other reasons for the sultan to want to remove the Janissaries were that they had grown into a large number, up from 20,000 in 1574 to 135,000 in their last year of 1826. This was expensive, and in addition the Janissaries had found their own (unacceptable) way of financing their military activities as well as their high living standard: they performed various trades and were more an more in contact with the society.

Seil Models SH54059 represents a Janissary Infantry of Ottoman Empire in 16th century armed with classical Ottoman infantry melee weapons of the period.


The figure comes in 130x80x50 mm. standard Seil Models black hard cardboard box. The box is inserted in a high quality paper cover which shows a photo of the painted figure. The photo also shows the details of the spear head.

Inside the box; there is an A5 paper sheet with 4 photos of the figure painted by Kim Man Jin from different angles that can be used as a very good painting guide.A historical note about Janisseries in 2 languages – English and Korean, is also included in the kit.

Parts are sandwiched between two slabs of thick gray polyfoam for a better protection and figure base is placed seperately under the polyfoam to protect parts from an unexpected damage.


The figure is sculpted by Russian sculptor Yury Serevryakov and made up of 14 white metal parts. The parts are cast clean and crisp in very good details. There is a small need to clean a few seamlines and some thin excess metal on the parts. A fast brushing with a metal brush and washing the figure will make it ready for priming.

The main part is torso with left leg and right thigh. As a typical Janissary low-rank battledress; he wears 2 button-front cotton robes one over the other. The inner coat is called Gomlek or Entari, a knee-length long cotton shirt with long sleeves. The outer coat is thicker than the inner coat and is called Dolama. It has high collars, elbow-length sleeves and long skirts which are typically inserted under the cloth belt or sash which is named Kushak. He carries a leather bag on the backside for personal gear. Cloth folds, high collars, front buttons of Dolama, details of sash, leather bag and straps of the scabbard are well defined. He wears trousers with loose thighs but narrow ankles which is called Shalvar and ankle-high leather shoes named Yemeni with knee- high leather leggings.

Other parts are;

  • Head : Facial details, Ottoman style moustache and teeth in the open mouth are very well defined. He wears a folded pillow style or sleeve-like headdress of white felt named Bork with a top part of angora wool folded towards the back which is called Yatirtma. This part is given as a seperate part in the kit. Bork is decorated in brass reinforcements and various embroidery in different designs. A brass plume holder is attached in front of the headdress. The plume holder differs in units and can be considered as the banner of the unit.

  • Plume : Details of the plume are well represented and makes a good fit to the plume holder.

  • Right arm : Cloth folds are well defined and 2 mounds/pins on the part make the assembly to shoulder easier and good fit.

  • Left arm : A mound inside the elbow makes the shield assembly easier.Hole on the wrist makes a good fit to the hand attached to the spear.

  • Right lower leg : It fits to right thigh well and details of the Yemeni shoe are well represented.

  • Swords : He carries 2 swords ; one hanged on the left side and the other inserted to his Kushak-sash. The one on the left is called Shimshirwhich is an Ottoman sabre varying from 60 to 80 cm.s in length and depply curved towards the sharp edge. Their hilts are made of bone,horn,ivory and silver and show different types of pommels. An Ottoman shimshir can be seen here. The other one is famous Ottoman short sword Yataghan; a slightly curved, reverse angled ,short bladed Ottoman sword with a round bone hilt. Please see this link to see a photo of Yataghan.

  • Axe : A small axe is also inserted to his sash on the left side.

  • Shield : He carries a round small Ottoman infantry shield attached on his left forearm. The Ottoman shields have low and wide bosses on the middle and they are highly decorated as ceremonial shields. An Ottoman shield can be seen here. The hole inside the shield fits to the mound on the figure’s elbow well and makes a good fit.

  • Spear : Spear is casted with the hands of the figure and it makes the assembly easier. The hands fit the holes on the wrists well. Note that the spear is one piece cast and needs some special care during assembly. Though Ottomans used many different Oriental and European influenced pole-arms; this figure carries an Ottoman version of Italian infantry Roncone which is called Tirpan. The spear head is commonly decorated in long tassels made of horse hair.

  • Strap of scabbard : A small part that will be used as the upper strap of the scabbard is supplied in the kit. It is a very small part and you should be careful on this part even as you check the parts.

  • Figure base ; Ground texture and a few small rocks are well represented. The hole and the footprint on the ground make the figure assembly easier.


    Besides the informative historical note and paper sheet with 4 high qualty photos that can be used as a painting reference, the kit includes a very good photo etched plaque/nameplate for the figure and 4 small screws to attach it to any wooden figure base.


    One of the best references to paint the Ottoman figures is Osprey Publishing Elite Series 58 - The Janisseries by David Nicole. The book has very good illustrations by Christs Hook. Again, Osprey Publishing Men-At-Arms Series 140 – Armies of the Ottoman Turks 1330-1774 by David Nicole with illustrations of Angus McBride is a good reference.


    Very appropriate to historical references, nice sculpted good posing figure in nice details,high quality casting, useful painting guide, easy assembly and perfect fit on parts, photoetched nameplate and more… I believe it is a perfect figure to paint for figure painters who like to paint Oriental figures in colorful uniforms.

    Highly Recommended
    Highs: Very nice sculpting and casting in good details. Very appropiate to historical references.
    Lows: Spear is casted in one piece and it makes some problems to keep it straight during assembly. IMO it could be great to use a copper wire as the spear.
    Verdict: A good figure to paint for figure painters who like to paint Oriental figures in colorful uniforms.
    Percentage Rating
      Scale: 54mm
      Mfg. ID: SH- 54059
      Suggested Retail: 24.50 €
      Related Link: 
      PUBLISHED: Jul 20, 2007
      NATIONALITY: Turkey / Türkçe
      THIS REVIEWER: 92.20%
      MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.67%

    Our Thanks to Seil Models!
    This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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    About Engin Kayral (Graywolf)

    Born in 1962,married and having 2 sons. I started modelling about 8 years old building USS Fletcher with mom. It was a model dad brought from USA., I think in those days only a few people in Turkey had info on scale model kits. Grown as an AF officer son , I built many aircraft models in years. Som...

    Copyright ©2021 text by Engin Kayral [ GRAYWOLF ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


    Great historical background Engin. The figure looks awesome, especially his pose is fantastic. Thanks for the review bro.
    JUL 19, 2007 - 08:28 PM
    Hello Engin,how are you,.. mate have looked at at this subject for years now and allways liked them, this bloke has great body talk,..the clothing would give hours,.. of pleasure painting, sadly he's 54,...perhaps this is the on set of old age talking A! mate,I can see him better as a120mm...I'm sure he will be very popular with lots of folk...... cheers cobber,..Phil..
    JUL 21, 2007 - 04:24 PM

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