"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 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.

4 comments:

  1. thoes dots are maile?

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

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

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

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

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    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.

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