Mard o mard

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Sassanian silver plate showing lance combat using kontos.

Mard ō mard (Middle Persian: Mard ud-mard, literally "man to man") was an ancient Iranian tradition of single combat, the Sasanian Empire being most known for using it. During a battle, the Sasanian troops would use taunts and war cries to provoke the enemy into a single duel with a Sasanian champion. The tradition meant much to the Sasanians—in 421, during the Roman–Sasanian War of 421–422, a champion of Bahram V (r. 420–438) was in a single duel killed by a Roman soldier, which made Bahram V accept the war as lost and make peace with the Romans.

Single combats have been narrated in Shahnameh ("The Book of Kings") of Ferdowsi, a notable example being those of the story of Davazdah Rokh ("Twelve Combats").


  • Nicolle, David (1996), Sassanian Armies: the Iranian Empire Early 3rd to Mid-7th Centuries AD, Stockport: Montvert, ISBN 978-1-874101-08-6
  • Shapur Shahbazi, A. (1986). "Army i. Pre-Islamic Iran". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. II, Fasc. 5. London et al. pp. 489–499.