Mail armour of the Ming Dynasty

Ming Chinese Hauberk
Mail armour, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Although known to the Chinese by Tang Dynasty at the latest (most likely earlier), mail armour never saw widespread use in China. Even during the Ming and Qing period, in which mail armour was relatively common, period sources always speak of mail armour as something foreign and exotic, originated from ancient Qiang people (羌族).

Ming Dynasty Imperial Guard Mail Armour
Ming period mail shirt, from National Museum of China.
Common Chinese name for mail armour is Suo Zi Jia (鎖子甲), but Ming Chinese had another name for this armour: Gang Si Lian Huan Jia (鋼絲連鐶甲, lit. 'Steel wire linked chain armour'). According to late Ming encyclopedia Tong Ya (《通雅》), Chinese mail utilises 4-in-1 weave pattern, similar to European mail.


  1. Hi. Did all Chinese mail armor utilize the 4 in 1 pattern?
    Also, were the rings riveted, butted, or twisted similar to keychain rings as in the case of Japanese mail?

    1. Yes, surviving mail suits all appear to be 4-in-1 riveted.

    2. Do you know if they were riveted or butted?