"Plate" armour of the Ming Dynasty

Ming Chinese Plate Armour
Two helmets, a breastplate and an armoured mask, from 'Wu Bei Yao Lue  (《武備要略》)'.

Ming Dynasty Mirror Armour
Two armguards, a thigh armour, and a backplate, from 'Wu Bei Yao Lue (《武備要略》)'.
The term "plate armour" is a bit of misnomer here, since this armour cannot be considered a plate armour in its truest sense. Chinese lacked necessary metallurgical expertise to develop full plate armour (with the possible exception of late Ming period Guangdong and Fujianese pirates), and they did not seem to import plate armour directly from the Europeans like their Japanese and Indian neighbours either.

The Quan Tie Jia (全鐵甲, 'Full iron armour') is made of several large lacquered iron or steel plates sewn to a backing made from thick cotton (or calico) fabric. The edges of these metal plates are wrapped with thrice-folded coarse fabric, likely to prevent chafing. In this regard, Quan Tie Jia has more similarities with Russian zertsalo (Зерцало) armour in construction than European full plate. 

While Quan Tie Jia is no match for European plate harness, its multiple large rigid plates and thick fabric backing still offer superb protection, a significant improvement over traditional Chinese lamellar and brigandine armour.


  1. thoes dots are maile?

    and the metal platess are exposed to outside or hiden on the fabric? (like brigandine)

    1. The dots are just fabric if according to description. The plates are exposed.

    2. It's seem to be very vulernable to me

      any chance that this armor be worn over other armor ? (like a maile)

    3. @s ss
      Although not visible in the artwork, the text specifically mentions that the plates are overlapped.

      While wearing mail under this armour certainly looks plausible, we have no other source of this armour, and I don't know if that was a common practice (wearing mail under other armour) back then.

    4. The torso being segmented (the exposed fabric area), probably allows for greater movement like bending,sitting up but at the cost of protection. Is there any examples of Chinese using full cuirass?

    5. The plates actually overlaps under the fabric.

      I think there's some records of Koxinga's dad buying european armour but otherwise no.

  2. 我在pinterest上面找到了爱好者制作的现代复制品以及博物馆出土的残片,希望有所帮助。

    1. Good day Nelson and welcome to my blog.