Horse armours of the Ming Dynasty

While horse armour did not saw much use (if at all) throughout Ming period because of the shift of cavalry tactic, lack of funding as well as deteriorating quality and training of both horse and rider, Chinese still had several designs of horse armour in their arsenal.

Horse armour is known as Ju Zhuang (具裝) in Chinese. A heavily armoured cavalryman is therefore known as Jia Qi Ju Zhuang (甲騎具裝, lit. 'Armour for man and armour for horse'). From Ming Dynasty onwards, horse armour is also known as Ma Jia (馬甲).

Traditional Song Dynasty-style "Cataphract" Barding
Champron and croupiere/crupper, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Criniere/crinet and peytral, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Champron (side view) and flanchard, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Traditional Chinese barding is of lamellar construction, and can be made of either leather or iron. It consists of five different components: Ma Mian Lian (馬面簾, lit. 'Horse face screen') or champron, Ji Jing (雞頸, lit. 'Chicken neck') or criniere/crinet, Dang Xiong (盪胷, lit. 'Swinging chest') or peytral, Ma Shen Jia (馬身甲, lit. 'Horse body armour') or flanchard, and Ma Da Hou (馬搭後, lit. 'Horse back attachment') or croupiere/crupper. The practice of separating hourse armour into different components appears to be unique to the Chinese, at least until the advent of full plate barding in Europe.

The design and aesthetic of Ming period barding changed little from its Song Dynasty counterpart.


Late Ming Dynasty Leather Barding
Lightweight barding, from 'Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》)'.
Late Ming period saw the development of a type of lightweight horse armour, which consists of only three components: Hu Lian (護臉, lit. 'Face protector'), one piece Hou Jia (喉甲, lit 'Throat armour') and Xiong Jia (胸甲, lit. 'Chest armour') as well as Qian Jia (膁甲, lit. 'Loin armour').

This horse armour is made of raw buffalo hide treated with tung oil and then sewn onto cotton backing.

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