Ah, the mysterious Arrow Knights. I don’t recall where I read it but it turns out they may be entirely fictitious. There was an early 20th century artist (with a German name IIRC- Hoffman?) who drew an ‘Arrow Knight’ as well as an ‘Eagle’ and ‘Jaguar’ knights. He may have completely misinterpreted what he was using as sources and he certainly oversimplified Aztec military society. But… his images have been used over and over and they captured the public imagination. There’s been a lot more research done showing the complexity of Aztec military society and its symbols since those drawings were made. The simplistic view of three ‘knightly orders’, though, does appeal to war gamers and figure manufacturers. Yet another rabbit hole to explore!
Yes, the research on those has proven to be difficult. My next painting project will be a 6-figure blister from Ral Partha circa 1988 – 42-305 “Aztec Arrow Knights”. Basically dudes with long feathered javelins. Historically accurate – well at this point who’s to say – not in any of the codices or not clear at best. So first, I will paint them as I have them and it seems reasonable that a feathered long arrow/long darts/javelin-like-armed elite unit could be possible. Maybe just super big atl-atl? It would be fun on the table, and given the relative paucity of information I think it would be fine. I’m planning on them having two long arrows with one held for melee like a spear. Now the SECOND question is – how to paint them and would they have shields with two of these long suckers to carry? Your thoughts?