During the Shang dynasty armour consisted of breastplates made of shell tied together. Later on bronze became popular and bronze helmets appeared. Regular folks had no protection except for a leather covered bamboo shield.
Armour in the Zhou dynasty consisted of either a sleeveless coat of rhinoceros or buffalo hide, or leather scale armour. Helmets were largely similar to Shang predecessors but less ornate. Chariot horses were sometimes protected by tiger skins.
In the 4th century BC, rhinoceros armour was still used. In the following passage Guan Zhong advises Duke Huan of Qi to convert punishments to armour and weapons:
Ordain that serious crimes are to be redeemed with a suit of rhinoceros armour and one halberd, and minor crimes with a plaited leather shield and one halberd. Misdemeanours are to be punished with a quota of metal , and doubtful cases are to be pardoned. A case should be delayed for investigation for three without allowing arguments or judgements; the case is judged one bundle of arrows. Good metal should be cast into swords and halberd and tested on dogs and horses, while poorer metal should be cast into agricultural implements and tested on earth.
However by the mid-4th century BC, lamellar armour of leather, bronze, and iron appeared. Lamellar consisted of individual armour pieces that were either riveted or laced together to form a suit of armour.