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Old March 2nd, 2017, 02:02 AM   #1

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Did Chinese really use this kind of armor?


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I've seen a lot of pictures of Chinese movies set before Yuan dynasty where they use these kind of armors, or sometimes even more spectacular. They look a bit too big and clumsy. I thought maybe Chinese movie makers were using over the top armors, but it looks like they are actually based in real armor from that era. Anyways, how accurate are they? Did the average Song dynasty soldier, for example, wear that kind of armor? It looks like it'd be very expensive to make in big numbers anyways.


other pic

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Last edited by Joe Freeman; March 2nd, 2017 at 02:06 AM.
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 06:11 AM   #2

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The Imperial Doctress is set during the Ming Dynasty, so yes that armour is accurate minus the dragon decorations added in for artistic value in film.

Click the image to open in full size.

For the torso, you see troops in either lamellar or scale pattern

For the arms, you see the same arm guard

For the legs, you see the same lamellar guard

For the head, you see similar spiked helmet with plume and lamellar neckguard

Keep in mind that movies, drama series, and games are similar across countries when it comes to realism - it varies from title to title and from producer to producer. Crews have to compromise based on budget, time constraint, for artistic and entertainment value based on trends and genre. Show soem more examples and we can compare and determine if they are realistic or not.

Your second image won't show.

Last edited by YouLoveMeYouKnowIt; March 2nd, 2017 at 06:14 AM.
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Old March 2nd, 2017, 11:17 AM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by YouLoveMeYouKnowIt View Post
The Imperial Doctress is set during the Ming Dynasty, so yes that armour is accurate minus the dragon decorations added in for artistic value in film.


For the torso, you see troops in either lamellar or scale pattern

For the arms, you see the same arm guard

For the legs, you see the same lamellar guard

For the head, you see similar spiked helmet with plume and lamellar neckguard

Keep in mind that movies, drama series, and games are similar across countries when it comes to realism - it varies from title to title and from producer to producer. Crews have to compromise based on budget, time constraint, for artistic and entertainment value based on trends and genre. Show soem more examples and we can compare and determine if they are realistic or not.

Your second image won't show.
I didn't know that movie was set in the Ming dynasty. That pic actually showed up when I looked for 'Song dynasty armor' in Google. Anyways, the second pic shows an armor like this one, which is supposedly from the Song dynasty(which had very fancy armors it seems)

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Old March 2nd, 2017, 02:33 PM   #4

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This seems a more art in film than realism
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Old March 9th, 2017, 10:19 PM   #5

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From the Shang to the Song dynasty. Chinese armor was mostly just lamellar, I can't think of a non-lamellar design in China that predates the Three Kingdoms period. Lamellar armor is plates of leather or metal that have small holes and are "sewn" together like this.

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There are many different styles of scale and weave.
Here is a replica of iron lamellar from the Western Han dynasty.

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Later on, in the Sui and Tang dynasties, they began to put a covering over the lamellar that had little "chest plates" or metal disc shaped objects
This Tang sculpture has the discs over his lamellar here.

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A modern drawing single plate
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Mail and brigandine armor came about the time of the mongol invasions, but mail never caught on like brigandine did. The Manchus used brigandine quite a bit. In the beginning it was made by riveting metal plates to the inside of the thick fabric.
Here is a brigandine coat.
Click the image to open in full size.

This Brigandine belonged to Nurhaci
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But eventually these brigandines were made without the iron plates inside them, so they were basically just uniforms.
Like these Bannerman uniforms here.

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There's still a lot about Chinese armor I didn't touch on, but those are the basics.

Last edited by The Keen Edge; March 9th, 2017 at 10:23 PM.
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Old March 12th, 2017, 11:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Freeman View Post
Click the image to open in full size.
I've seen a lot of pictures of Chinese movies set before Yuan dynasty where they use these kind of armors, or sometimes even more spectacular. They look a bit too big and clumsy. I thought maybe Chinese movie makers were using over the top armors, but it looks like they are actually based in real armor from that era. Anyways, how accurate are they? Did the average Song dynasty soldier, for example, wear that kind of armor? It looks like it'd be very expensive to make in big numbers anyways.


other pic

Click the image to open in full size.
From the Song era manual . their standard heavy armor was.

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The one on the bottom is for more infantry and the one on the top were for heavy cavalry / elite units.

This seem to been pretty much common issue to at least the imperial troops' actual combat units. However we should note the Song's main army was the imperial troop, the local level army was both small and not meant for major combat. so there are at least around 100,000 of these stuff around given the size of the Song imperial army and what we know of their usual army development .

as the way of "heavy" goes these things were definitely heavy monsters. a piece is usually 25-30 KG. There's a degree of really really old school Cataprhact logic armor to these guys. especially when you see their standard heavy cavalry horse armor was..

Click the image to open in full size.

In terms of heavy , there's no doubt this was heavy shite. in terms of protection usefulness. there was a myth buster show test on paper armor where they did a replica song armor and it stopped even early pistols. (as did the paper armor , but the problem is the paper armor falls apart pretty quickly after being hit a few times.) the problem with these armor type though is that it leaves quite a few potential opening, in terms of raw stopping power it probably tops everything until high level plate but in terms of coverage areas mail had significant advantage. and also, the weight is a big problem in terms of combat unit effectiveness and flexibility. ( though these things aren't difficult to take off, so if they really need to run for it they could take off the armor. which is not really possible for heavy chain maile for example. )

"MythBusters" Paper Armor (TV Episode 2011) - IMDb

(test is around the 42 min mark on .)

As for production, there's a reason why a lot of historian view the Song dynasty as the peak of Chinese civilization, it was borderline industrial civilization already in the 11th century.

Last edited by RollingWave; March 13th, 2017 at 12:07 AM.
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Old March 13th, 2017, 12:34 AM   #7

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The armor used in this video game mod is a pretty accurate representation of Sung period armor.

【血与尘】蒙古装备开始更新~第一套甲预览! - 1257AD - 骑马与砍杀中文站 骑马与砍杀 - Powered by SupeSite

Its not overly-exaggerated like the stuff you often see in movies. The creators obviously used manuals and illustrations of the period for reference (like the illustrations posted above).

The average armored infantry 'grunt" looked like this

Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by stevapalooza; March 13th, 2017 at 12:52 AM.
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Old March 19th, 2017, 03:42 AM   #8
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This kind of armour is not clumsy at all. To prove my point, I quote Frederick Coyett, the governor of Formosa, who reported the following after Koxinga took Taiwan from the Dutch: "...Every one was protected over the upper part of the body with a coat of iron scales, fitting below one another like the slates of a roof, the arms and legs being left bare. This afforded complete protection from rifle bullets and yet left ample freedom to move, as those coats only reached down to the knees, and were very flexible at all the joints."

From a contemporary primary source we know these scale armours worked quite well.
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Old March 19th, 2017, 04:45 AM   #9

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You can't have it both ways. In order for armour to stop bullets it has to be heavy and clumsy. If it isn't, then it won't stop bullets. In any case lamellar can't protect against rifles; black powder shot blasts straight through. In order to stop bullets the Japanese and Chinese adopted thick solid steel breastplates just like the Europeans.

Last edited by Dan Howard; March 19th, 2017 at 04:50 AM.
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Old March 20th, 2017, 01:28 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevapalooza View Post
The armor used in this video game mod is a pretty accurate representation of Sung period armor.

【血与尘】蒙古装备开始更新~第一套甲预览! - 1257AD - 骑马与砍杀中文站 骑马与砍杀 - Powered by SupeSite

Its not overly-exaggerated like the stuff you often see in movies. The creators obviously used manuals and illustrations of the period for reference (like the illustrations posted above).

The average armored infantry 'grunt" looked like this
Funny because that's exactly the game that brought me here. That's because I compared the uniforms seen in the game to the ones I had seen in movies and in other videogames(that were much exaggerated). So it made me think that obviously, either most movies were inaccurate or the game was inaccurate
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