Why didn't the Ancient Chinese use plate armor like the Greeks, Romans, Europeans?

Aug 2013
1,415
South Korea
Chinese were the first to use lamellar and scale armors in East Asia. We have evidences of lamellar armors dating back to the Warring States period and scale armors dating back to the Han. Goguryo probably learned it from the Chinese.
Yes, I agree with that.

I know that a certain type of plate armor was used in Shilla and Gaya kingdoms, but it's not the same type of armor shown in your pictures. Those plate armors used by Shilla didn't have the mail padding and looked much more rudimentary.
Note that I referred to the photos as plated mail.
 
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Aug 2013
1,415
South Korea
Technically, the armor you display isn't plate armor, but appears to be made of small number of plates, making it brigadine armor. Plate armor would have a single solid plate over the front of the torso, not a a bunch of small plates. Brigadin armor was very popular with men at arms and common soldiers, being flexible and cheaper than plate armor, though the protection is less.
I said "plated" mail.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
I said "plated" mail.
modern usage is that mail means armor exclusively made of metal rings linked together like a chain (hence the superfluous "chain mail"). It was back in the 19th century that used mail to mean any type of armor, but that usage has been rejected by most scholars today, who use the more restrictive meaning. Plate mail is an incorrect term, and should not be used.
 
Dec 2011
3,492
Mountains and Jungles of Southern China
Except that it is lamellar, not a breastplate. The discs are more decorative rather than protective. A proper breastplate actually covers the breast.
How do you know that the discs don't serve any protective purposes? They are all made of metal. I know that full plate armor had never appeared in China, but making protective metal discs and then attach it onto a leather or lamellar backing is well within the technological capabilities of ancient China.

And also, it seems that similar types of armor with double metal discs could be found in Central Asia and Eastern Europe at some point in time.

I'm not claiming that the ancient Chinese could make a full breastplate armor that covers the entire breast, but they certainly could make metal plate discs.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
modern usage is that mail means armor exclusively made of metal rings linked together like a chain (hence the superfluous "chain mail"). It was back in the 19th century that used mail to mean any type of armor, but that usage has been rejected by most scholars today, who use the more restrictive meaning. Plate mail is an incorrect term, and should not be used.
Doing further research, there is a platted mail armor, where plates are held in place by mail. It is a type of mail. However, in the examples that were given, I didn't see any signs of mail, in which case they were examples of brigadine rather than plated armor.

In the original post, I missed seeing the word mail, perhaps because I didn't see mail in the pictures
 
Aug 2014
4,357
Australia
I'm not claiming that the ancient Chinese could make a full breastplate armor that covers the entire breast, but they certainly could make metal plate discs.
Then stop calling them "breastplates". That term has a very specific connotation. Perhaps call them "pectoral discs" or some other such term.
 
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Dec 2011
3,492
Mountains and Jungles of Southern China
Then stop calling them "breastplates". That term has a very specific connotation. Perhaps call them "pectoral discs" or some other such term.
Ok, so it's a problem with nomenclature. I'm open to suggestions. If you have possible explanations or possible names for that type of Chinese armor, feel free to tell me.

I do have some thoughts about that type of armor. I'll post a new thread about it when I have time.
 
Dec 2011
3,492
Mountains and Jungles of Southern China


I feel that the armors these figurines were wearing are composed of two or three parts. The lamellar body armor, the lamellar thigh armor, and some sort of leather poncho with two metal discs that covers the chest and the shoulders.

First the soldier has to wear a lamellar body armor, and then he has to wear the lamellar skirt, and finally, wear the leather poncho with discs on the outside of his lamellar body armor as an extra protection.

Of course this is all speculation, but I feel that this is the most plausible explanation. The Song Dynasty military manual Wujing Zongyao indicated that the infantry armor is made up of several parts, and since the Song was not far in time from the Tang, thus I concluded that Tang armors were probably also made up of several parts.

Song armors, notice the lamellar poncho in this picture. The Chinese call it "披膊". Apparently during the Song Dynasty, the iron lamellar poncho had replaced Tang Dynasty's leather poncho with pectoral discs.

I'm not really sure how to translate the word "披膊" into English, perhaps poncho is not the best word. Anyone has other suggestions?

 
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