Chinese armour

Armour in China was predominantly lamellar from the Warring States period (481 BC - 221 BC) forward, prior to which animal parts such as rhinoceros hide, leather, and turtle shells were used for protection. Lamellar armour was supplemented by scale armour starting from the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) forward, partial plate armour from the Northern and Southern dynasties (420–589), and mail and mountain pattern armour from the Tang dynasty (618–907). During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), brigandine began to supplant lamellar armour and was used to a great degree into the Qing dynasty (1644–1912.). By the 19th century most Qing armour, which was of the brigandine type, were purely for show, having kept the outer studs for aesthetic purposes, and omitted the protective metal plates.

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.

This page was last edited on 19 June 2018, at 19:16 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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