Prince of Persia (2008) – Costume Making (Part 4) – Leather Belt

The Prince of Persia sash (wide belt) is definitely one of the most visible and detailed elements of the costume, along with the gauntlet and cloak. The designers must have spent a lot of time working on it.
So we thought it would be a good idea to prepare and do some research before taking it on…and we found ourselves in a virtual tour of museums and viewing collections of ancient exhibits…

As for the shape and material, it is rather a collective image of the Persian belt, as a person of our time can imagine 🙂
As we found out in the process of a superficial study of the historical development of the Persian costume, wide soft belts made of leather and textiles were widespread in ancient Iran, then at the beginning of the first millennium they were replaced by leather belts reinforced with bronze sheets (10-12 cm wide) sewn to base and decorated with hammering.

In our opinion, the artists decided to combine these options into one design, because a smooth leather or fabric belt would look too simple (and repeat the images from the original trilogy), and bronze hammering would look too heavy.
As a result, we see a wide leather belt with a huge amount of embossing and additional elements.

The choice of pattern also seemed quite remarkable to us…and since the reference at first glance seems to be some kind of “mix of curls”, we had to first understand a little about the features of Persian ornaments.

Here’s what we found out 🙂

Figurative* images are strictly prohibited in islamic art. Thus, when referring to the art of islamic countries, the diversity of ornamental systems is mentioned first of all. In particular we can distinguish the following typology of zoomorphic ornamentation: mythological creatures and real animals stylized in a special manner.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
*Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork (particularly paintings and sculptures) that is clearly derived from real object sources and so is, by definition, representational.

Dragon in Foliage (drawing, recto); calligraphy, (verso) – Mir Sayyid Muhammad Naqqash
Persian calligraphy by Ali al-Katiba (1520-1550).

As for the the dragon motif, in ancient Egypt and China, Ejder was synonymous with the word serpent and had a symbolic meaning of imperial power and independence of the state. In ornaments, images of dragons, called Evren or Ejder, can also be found in the art of the Anatolian Seljuks (The Great Seljuk Empire, or the Seljuk Empire was a high medieval, culturally Turko-Persian 1037-1194).

Anatolian fabrics with images of mythological creatures dating back to the 13th century have been preserved, as well as a door handle of the Ulu Jami Mosque in Cizre. The handle is in the form of a creature with a scaly body, with paws and heads of some mammals and wings on its back.

So, if you have read this little historical background, you can agree that a dragon is depicted on the belt…or rather, two dragons intertwined with their tails.

And now that we knew exactly what was to be embossed, we had to draw this pattern and adapt it to the belt pattern that was made and corrected in the course of this study.

Trying on the paper layout of the belt

Fortunately, Anastasia Miramarta helped us a lot with the main pattern, cause she undertook to sort out all these curls and prepare fragments of the pattern for the wide part for us 🙂 We drew the patterns for the lower element ourselves, because were not completely sure of their size and shape and corrected several times.

Besides the embossing pattern, we also had to place additional elements on the pattern: one more layer with which the belt is wrapped from below (triangles were also decided to be embossed rather than cut), a layer on top and connector overlays that connect the layers of the belt with a leather cord and rivets.

We printed the main pattern, but the small elements had to be drawn by hand, adjusting and checking with the mannequin. But in the end we got our perfect pattern!

Finally, it was possible to get the leather :))) As already described in detail in the article about materials, we chose veg-tanned leather of different thicknesses for the belt: about 3 mm for the base and lower parts and 1-1.5 mm for the upper layers and overlays .

We decided to start with the top layers so that they have time to dry properly. The fact is that the shape of the belt had rather specific bends, and therefore it could not simply be wrapped in leather – many folds would have arisen, which, in addition to everything, could cause deformation of the embossing and its displacement.
And as we found out in the process of studying the references, the upper part of the belt is not wrapped on top, but is placed under the central part. Therefore, we decided to make an analogue of the central part from plastic and use it as mold in order to give the desired shape to the upper layers.
So first we prepared a single strip for embossing, transferred the pattern, then cut it, stretched it and fixed it on the plastic.
Thus, after drying, we got two strips that are ideal for the main part.

At the same time, we worked on the lower details: we figured out the design, drew and transferred the pattern, and prepared it for embossing.
In the process, it turned out that none of our stamps is suitable for such small work (after all, we work with embossing much less often than with sewing), so we had to make suitable stamps ourselves from what was at hand (nails).

But the result was definitely worth these efforts, besides, we later needed these stamps in working with the central part.
We slightly molded the finished parts and adjusted them to each other.
Also, we made aging on the leather – traces of blows, scratches, abrasions that are visible on the belt in the game.

While the additional elements were drying, we took on the most labor-intensive work – embossing the central part: we transferred the pattern to the leather, marked clearer borders with an awl, embossed the contours and made the background.

This work took about three or four days…and we already really wanted to see the final result :))

Now all these details (including small connectors) needed to be given the right shade.

Of course, this time it was not without samplers! But after that, we found out that our coating lays better after preliminary cleaning of the leather.
In the process of work, especially if a lot of time and various adjustment operations pass between embossing and dying, the leather picks up dust and grease from hands (you don’t always remember to work with gloves …), moreover, while it comes from production to the store, it is possible other impurity. The cleanser removes all this and opens the pores, allowing the dye / cream to better penetrate the thickness of the leather.
So after cleaning, we started dying, for which we chose professional Italian leather creams, which are usually used to create an antique effect. We went through two layers in different colors (where without probes …) to get the right color and emphasize the embossing.

After everything had dried well, we collected all the large parts on shoe glue.

We marked out the places for the connectors and fixed them, as in the reference: the upper ones – with a cord and rivets, the lower ones – only with rivets.

I also attached the lower parts during assembly, marking the backing so as not to make unnecessary rivets, and installed hidden lacing at the back.
Of course, we covered the entire inner (technical) part with a lining, using for this purpose the thinnest pigskin (suede) that could be found, also gluing it on shoe glue. This allowed us not only to minimize the abrasion of the parts of the belt and vest against each other, since python leather is a rather specific material, but also to give the belt a finished look from all sides.

And the result of all this painstaking work was the most accurate replica of the belt, made according to the game model, which we can proudly call an example of arts and crafts! ^_^

Thank you for reading!
We hope you liked it 🙂
We’ll be glad to see your feedback ❤

To be continued…

Sources used in the article:

  • “Chinese and Persian motifs in Ottoman ceramics of the 16th century.” (A.R. Bunjukchu)
  • materials from “The Encyclopaedia Iranica” (BELTS (Mid. Pets, kamar, NPers. kamar-band))

Links to other articles:
Prince of Persia (2008) – creating a costume (part 1)
Prince of Persia (2008) – creating a costume (part 2) – Materials
Prince of Persia (2008) – creating a costume (part 3) – Vest

If you want us to make such a belt especially for you, write to us by email svetliysudar@gmail.com


Alex & Anastasia

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