Scale armours from 'Yu Zi Shi San Zhong Mi Shu Bing Heng (《喻子十三種秘書兵衡》)'

Hun Jin Jia (渾金甲, lit. 'Native gold armour')
Ming Chinese bronze scale armour
Bronze helmet, mask and body armour, from 'Yu Zi Shi San Zhong Mi Shu Bing Heng (《喻子十三種秘書兵衡》)'.
Despite its name, Hun Jin Jia is actually made of bronze instead of native gold, with common rush (juncus effusus) textile backing. It covers the wearer from head to toe, and is intended for high-ranking officer. Rare among Ming armours of this period, Hun Jin Jia also includes an armoured mask and boots.


Long Lin Jia (龍鱗甲, lit. 'Dragon scale armour') and Xie Di Jia (鞋底甲, lit. 'Shoe sole armor')
Ming Chinese hide scale armour
Xie Di Jia (left) and Long Lin Jia (right), from 'Yu Zi Shi San Zhong Mi Shu Bing Heng (《喻子十三種秘書兵衡》)'.
Both Long Lin Jia and Xie Di Jia follow the same basic design as Hun Jin Jia, but substitute bronze for tung oiled cowhide. Long Lin Jia is designed for front line troops, while Xie Di Jia is made for second line troops and other support personnels.

By the time this book was written, Ming army had largely abandoned traditional scale or lamellar armour in favour of brigandine, cotton and paper armour, so these scale armours were unlikely to see any use.

13 comments:

  1. What kind of helmet does the 七梁盔 resemble?

    What sort of function do the raised brims serve,or are they the result of artistic interpretation?(Such as the one's depicted in the 抗倭圖卷?)

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  2. It is hard to think of another helmet that resemble 七梁盔/Seven ridge helmet. It does remind me of some Philippines Moro bronze helmet though.

    The exact function of raised brims is unknown, but this is a common feature on other pre-modern helmet (i.e. Spanish Morion), so artistic interpretation is unlikely.

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  3. The rim of the helmet is for protection. A (sword)blow to the head may hit the rim before the actual helmet.

    A raised rim is simply stronger than a flat one.

    PS. Great blog!

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    Replies
    1. Good day and welcome to my blog! And thanks for the info!

      Delete
  4. Wansui and I have discussed this helmet at length, but have not been able to determine its shape with certainty. Raised rims are, as has been pointed out for stopping blows, but the shape depicted here seems to show raised points in four places (though one may have only two), like a morion which as fore and aft points, but with additional points on the sides. Its not exactly easy to reconcile this with other helmet styles. It may be an artefact of the artist trying to render a brim that's turned upwards all around, but I don't think this likely as its pretty clearly depicted as distinct points. The leftmost example on the Long Lin Jia could be that, but the rightmost doesn't really look like it could be, and is apparently distinct.
    It bothers me because I want to try to sculpt it and its not easy to interpret this into a physical 3d object.

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    1. Long time no see, how’s the sculpt going?

      I know it is very hard to reconstruct based on the drawings in Ming treatises, given the abstraction, terrible drawing skill, and the fact that they didn't draw in 3D or perspective.

      Personall I imagine this helmet as something similar to Morion-burgonet though.

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    2. http://i.imgur.com/ToGKZ3b.jpg
      Here's a picture I mashed together to compare the Chinese helmet and a Morion-burgonet.

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  5. To me it looks like it could it be shaped like a square roof, with the points turned up.
    The line from the top to a point is a double curve; the line from one point to another is a single curve.

    The right helmet looks somewhat more rounded, with the points turned up.
    The left one is more flat, with the points barely raised. The line from the top is almost a single curve.

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    1. Left helmet is easier to imagine, as slightly raised cone helmet was fairly common in China, Vietnam and Japan (Jingasa).

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  6. Hi 春秋戰國, rest assured I am a frequent, almost daily visitor to the blog, though I may not often be able to contribute to the discussion!

    I agree the leftmost helmet does look conical, but if you rotate the shape in you mind the raised points at the edge would be the same height the whole way round (unless they are two raised points like a morion). It may well be conical, but the artist may have depicted it imprecisely.
    The rightmost helmet is more problematic. Is it the seven ridge helmet? If so the first google image result gives this;
    http://www.wuhuashengguo.com/public/image/article/ihxory/206745304/4/30.jpg
    which is in line with Black Prince's suggestion, and I think, is the shape most literally interpreted from the drawing. In fact its pretty much the shape I had sketched out from the drawing before seeing this post while trying to get a 3d idea of it, though it seems an odd shape for a helmet. Strangely the drawing omits the ridges that would appear to give it its name (unless I am confusing the helmet in the Hun Jin Jia with the other two, though they are all quite similar).

    Sculpting is coming along, albeit slowly; this week I sent for casting all the generic helmets and weapons I want to dolly to save time when sculpting individuals, along with the first small group of finished figures; unarmoured swordsmen.

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    1. Seven ridge helmet (first picture) is bronze, while the other two are leather. Only the bronze one has ridges.

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  7. That's true.

    I think this modern reconstruction of the Native gold armour is quite good, though I am not sure about the leggings, perhaps they appear in another manual illustration, or perhaps they have been extrapolated from the Shoe sole armour.
    http://s5.sinaimg.cn/original/001ngkYwzy6Wqyqflys14&690h
    Illustration credit; ttp://blog.sina.com.cn/kungfuland

    http://s5.sinaimg.cn/original/001ngkYwzy6Wqyqflys14&690

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    1. The modern drawing is quite good, although as always he took some liberies with the depiction of the armour (i.e throat armour).

      By legging, do you mean the dress beneath his armour? I think the body armour itself is pretty spot-on.

      The armoured boots is conjectured. In the original text, even the bronze armour set used leather scale boots.

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