Bamboo and wooden armour of the Ming Dynasty

Chinese Bamboo Helmet
A Qing Dynasty bamboo hat helmet, probably used by the militia. (Source: Trocadero)
The Ming armies never make use of any bamboo armour, except (very rarely) as helmet. Seventeenth century military treatise Jing Guo Xiong Lue (《經國雄略》) is the only Ming period source that mentions a bamboo helmet. The book makes no mention of bamboo body armour.

Although never used by Ming armies, one particular group did find bamboo armour useful — warrior monks from Shaolin Monastery. Warrior monks were often recruited to aid government efforts in combating Wokou (倭寇), so some form of protection must be necessary.

Other than warrior monks, Mao Hu Lu Bing (毛葫蘆兵), which like Shaolin monks also came from Henan province, also made use of bamboo greaves.

Wooden armour
Man Wen Lao Dang (《滿文老檔》) mentions in passing the use of wooden armours (also worn together with leather armour) by Ming troops from Sichuan province during Battle of Sarhu.


  1. I'm interested of the 朱 word (my sir name as well) printed on the Helmet. :)
    I know Ming Dynasty is national sir name, is that why they printed on it? why not 明?

  2. @Choo Keat Key
    That particular helmet is from the Qing period (there would be aversion of using Imperial surname in most Chinese dynasties, so writing 朱 on a Ming-period helmet without authorization will most probably result in death penalty).

    If your look carefully at this helmet, it actually reads something like "溪朱洞", which is (probably, I am just guessing) indicative of the place of the origin of the troop wearing this helmet.

  3. Thank you for the reply! interesting, there are so many stuff to read from your blog.
    Thanks again for sharing!