Ming, Qing and Japanese armour components: A brief introduction and analysis

Ming Qing Japanese Armour Glossaries
Left: An unnamed Ming Jin Yi Wei (錦衣衛, lit. 'Brocade-clad guard') in parade gear. Middle: Fu De (富德), a Manchu general of Plain Yellow Banner. Right: Yamanaka Yukimori (山中幸盛) with his characteristic crescent moon crested helmet.
This blog post is intended to be an introductory article to Chinese armours of Ming and Qing period, their individual components, as well as a comparison between their similarities and differences. I also included a Japanese armour to the analysis in the hope that it can highlight the design considerations that went into each armours.

Ming Armour
Ming Chinese lamellar armour glossary
Components of Ming armour (Click to enlarge).
Armour in the above picture is taken from Ru Bi Tu (《入蹕圖》). This particular suit is a parade armour, although it is reasonably representative of field armours used by Ming troops in North China. 

This style of armour is called Zhao Jia (罩甲), also known as Chang Shen Da Jia (長身大甲, lit. 'Long body great armour'). It is characterised by its lack of collar and sleeves, as well as single-breasted, button down design. It should be noted that lamellar and scale Zhao Jia were generally reserved for elite troops and officers, while ordinary troopers wore brigandines.

Ming Chinese armour design feature
Analysis of Ming armour (Click to enlarge).
The sleeveless and collarless Zhao Jia is clearly designed for horse archers, as it allows considerable freedom of movement for the arm and neck, both important elements of archery. However, the presence of metal armguards suggests that Ming cavalrymen were expected to engage in plenty of close combat as well. The long coat reaches down to the knees, long enough to cover entire leg (but not the foot) while its wearer is mounted. Fighting on foot in this armour is slightly less convenient, although many Ming Northern infantry fought behind the protection of relatively immobile war carts anyway.

Unlike earlier Chinese armours, Zhao Jia is simple to wear, allowing its user to suit up at a moment's notice. This was especially important to Ming border troops given the unpredictable nature of Mongol raids.

Due to the suppleness of Chinese-style brigandine, this type of armour has poor weight distribution compared to rigid lamellar or plate armour. The armguards also leave the hands and fingers of its wearer vulnerable. While this is understandable given the importance of archery in Chinese warfare, it still constitute a weakness (note that other archery cultures still made use of hand protection).

Qing Armour
Qing Chinese brigandine glossary
Components of Qing armour (Click to enlarge).
Armour in the above picture is taken from Zi Guang Ge Gong Chen Xiang (《紫光閣功臣像》) depicting Fu De (富德), a Manchu general of Gūwalgiya clan that participated in the First Jinchuan War and Dzungar-Qing Wars. This armour is typical of the type worn by high-ranking Manchu generals.

The design of Qing armour was copied directly from late Ming armour, with only minor modifications and improvements. As widespread adoption of more advanced firearms, both by Qing and their enemies, quickly rendered body armour obsolete, no further modification was needed for Qing armour.

Qing Chinese armour design feature
Analysis of Qing armour (Click to enlarge).
The most noticeable differences between Ming and Qing armour are the replacement of long coat with two-piece armour, replacement of armguards with pauldrons, as well as the addition of various armour attachments. Two-piece armour offers superior mobility to its wearer at the expense of reduced protection at the abdomen, buttocks and back thighs. Nevertheless, since majority of Manchu warriors fought mounted, these vulnerabilities were of little concern to them.

Horse Hoof Cuff
Small Ma Ti Xiu on the ceremonial armour of Qianlong Emperor.
On the other hand, modified aventail on Qing helmet fixed one of the major weaknesses (i.e. exposed throat) of Ming armour. Qing period also saw the development of Ma Ti Xiu (馬蹄袖, lit. 'Horse hoof cuff'), a flared cuff that not only keeps the hand warm, but protects the hand and fingers from many archery-related injuries as well.

Japanese Armour
Samurai armour glossary
Components of Japanese armour (Click to enlarge).
Armour in the picture above is taken from tsuki hyakushi (《月百姿》), a nineteenth century ukiyo-e (浮世絵) depicting Yamanaka Yukimori (山中幸盛), a prominent samurai that served Amago clan during Sengoku Jidai (戦国時代). This painting is the work of master painter Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (月冈芳年).

By sixteenth century, samurai armour had evolved into its final iteration: tōsei gusoku (当世具足, lit. 'Present age complete armour'). Like its namesake, the armour covers its wearer from head to toe. Tōsei gusoku was developed as a response to the introduction of Portuguese firearms, shift of battlefield tactic, as well as increasingly intense warfare of the Sengoku period. Riveted or stapled laminar armour known as okegawa-dō (桶側胴) also supplanted earlier lamellar armour to reduce armour cost and improve protective quality.

Samurai armour design features
Analysis of Japanese armour (Click to enlarge).
Even a rudimentary inspection on Japanese armour of this period will reveal that it is designed for foot combat. This is especially evident on the presence of groin armour, heavy emphasis on thigh protection, and the choice of footwear. Thigh armour is extremely crucial for foot combat, especially for samurai (since they did not use handheld shield and wielded shorter spears or polearms), as injury on femoral artery can cause death within minutes, not to mention very difficult to treat even with modern medical technology.

Samurai of this period were no longer the horse archer-duellists they once were. They became much more close combat-oriented on the battlefield, and this shift of tactic was also reflected on their armour design. Tōsei gusoku protects virtually every part of its wearer's body, and its gaps and weak spots can be further reinforced with auxiliary armour items worn beneath or on top of the main armour, befitting a warrior that expected to see frequent high intensity close combat. Some auxiliary armours such as manchira (満智羅) also provide padding and better weight distribution for the armour.

Another notable feature of later samurai armour is the shrinking of its spaudlers. Early Japanese ō-sode (大袖) were actually shoulder mounted shields designed to protected the flanks and upper arms from incoming arrows. As samurai became less reliant on archery and more on close combat, sode also shrank in size and evolved into proper spaudlers for better protection and mobility for the arms.

Despite its almost complete coverage, tōsei gusoku is not without weaknesses. For an armour with such complete protection, it somehow leaves the lower part of midriff (i.e. area between cuirass and tassets) completely unprotected. Besides, Japanese sode are not tied to the upper arms, limiting their usefulness. Many Japanese armours also do not have backing material, so they are quite noisy to wear due to rubbing between individual armour plates, which also causes premature wear to lacing, lacquer coating, and the plates themselves.

Choice of footwear
The difference between Chinese and Japanese approach to warfare can be seen on their respective footwear of choice as well. Ming Northern troops and Manchu warriors were predominantly cavalrymen, so their footwear of choice was obviously riding boots (infantry-based Ming Southern troops continued to wear shoes with stockings or puttees, or sometimes straw sandals as well). On the other hand, Japanese warriors were predominantly footmen, with almost no cavalry to speak of, so their footwear of choice was sandals.

Ming Chinese Riding Boots
A pair of Ming-style boots, made by traditional Chinese clothing store Chong Hui Han Tang (重回漢唐).
A boot is known as Xue (靴) or more rarely Yao Xie (靿鞋, lit. 'Shafted shoes') in Chinese language. Traditional Chinese riding boots share many similarities with neighbouring horse cultures such as the Mongols. They can be made of either cloth or leather, although military riding boots are exclusively made of thick, stiff leather to better protect ankle joints. Due to the cold and dry climate of North China, traditional Chinese riding boots are lined with layers thick fabric. Stockings known as Wa (襪) are usually worn underneath the boots.

Unlike Western riding boots, traditional Chinese riding boots are flat-heeled. They have unusually wide shafts and comparatively short vamps, which serve the same purpose as heel, (i.e. to prevent the foot from slipping through the stirrup and get stuck). Both Western and traditional Chinese riding boots also have flat and smooth soles for the same aforementioned reason. Still, boots with flat soles are more slippery, which renders them less suitable for foot combat, especially in rough terrain.

Traditional Chinese boots are almost always pitch black in colour contrasted with pale white soles. They generally have less prominent and rounder upturned toes than Mongolian boots (even though upturned toes design seems to originated from China), and many boots do not have upturned toes at all.

Japanese Samurai Sandals
A waraji. Note the toes protruding over the front edge. Straw sandals are still used in traditional Japanese stream hiking known as Sawanobori (沢登り) today. 
Japanese warriors made use of flip-flops and sandals made of rice straw, called zōri (草履) and waraji (草鞋) respectively, although waraji were by far the more common of the two. Japanese sandals provide excellent ventilation (effective in preventing athlete's foot) and ankle mobility, as well as a firm grip on rocky or mossy surface, making them the prefect footwear to use in the mountainous and humid Japan. While straw sandals are less durable than shoes or boots, they can be cheaply replaced and even manufactured on the fly as long as there is raw material available.

During cold seasons, divided toe socks known as tabi (足袋) can be worn together with sandals. Samurai that wanted better protection for their feet may wear armoured kōgake (甲掛) on top of the socks.

On the flip side, horse riding in sandals is generally a very bad idea, as getting accidentally stepped on by a horse is extremely unpleasant and potentially crippling. This is especially true for Japanese straw sandals, which are traditionally made shorter and narrower than the wearer's feet, providing even less protection than other sandals. Besides, a sandal does not protect the ankle like a boot does, putting the rider at high risk of ankle sprain and fracture.

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  1. If sleeveless armor is for horse archering

    Then why joeson brigandine have sleeves

    Ps did wing brigandine also sleeveless?

    1. Sleeveless is nice to have for archery, but isn't a strict necessity. It is also a trade off between more freedom of movement vs more protection.

      Qing had both sleeveless and sleeved brigandines.

  2. "Due to the flexible nature of Chinese-style brigandine"

    could you explain this?

    1. Flexible as in not rigid like plate armour?

    2. Brigandine is relatively more flexible than plate in general

      What I want ask is, is chinese brigandine is more flexible than other countries?

    3. and I want know, how flexiblity of armor is related weight distribution

    4. Can't think of many countries that used brigandine...anyway, if we compare a Chinese brigandine to a European brigandine, it is indeed more flexible/loose-fitting.

    5. Flexible armour, like mail, basically let your shoulder to support its entire weight (wearing padding and belt helps a lot though). Also if you change your body position (let's say going all-four), the body part that has to support the weight change as well.

      Rigid and form-fitting armour such as plate armour can distribute its weight more evenly,thus lessen the burden to the body.

    6. Speaking of Joseon, I really wanted to include them (and Vietnam) in this blog post as well, but my knowledge to Joseon/Vietnam armour is extremely limited, and good period paintings are hard to come by.

    7. You guys can forget about Vietnamese armour since there is little to no evidence about it. Even harder when asks a Vietnamese doctorate about their ancestor's armour since they will tell you their ancestor go to war with bare foot and bare naked.

    8. @Aomari2
      Good day and welcome to my blog.

      Vietnamese going to war naked isn't wrong, as similar descriptions also show up on Ming records. However that's not the entire picture, since Vietnam wasn't even unified at that time, and Ming had mostly encountered the remnant of Mac Dynasty, sandwitched between Trinh-Nguyen war.

    9. @春秋戰國:
      If they were like that there is nothing to complain but they weren't. According to historical evidences, the basic equipment of levy class soldiers is clothes and boots beside weapons and shields.

    10. Checked my source. Ming records describe Mac troops as having rattan hat (but did not wear it), untied hair, barefooted, and did not carry anything on their shoulder other than their weapons.

      Indeed no mention of nakedness, only barefoot.

    11. About barefoot. That is acceptable because Vietnamese enjoy walking and running barefoot for hundreds of years. Not because they can't make or buy shoes, they simply liked it. But in war that is a different matter, because all war equipment are supply by the state including shoes.

    12. Which state? The troops mentioned in Ming records are Mac troops of the 17th century. By that time Mac was nothing more than a shadow of its former glory.

    13. @春秋戰國: Trinh and Nguyen lords, of course.

    14. The Vietnamese military didn't only use levies as troops no? Did they not have professional soldiers? And from what I've seen from statues in Vietnam, it seems that they depict famous generals wearing armor that seems similar if not identical to Chinese armor from various periods.

    15. @Unknown
      Vietnamese most certainly had some form of professional military and/or royal guards. Also given that they are at close proximity with China, heavy Chinese influences are to be expected (although they are quite different also).

      Vietnam is also an international hub of sort, so influences from Japanese, Europeans and SE Asians (i.e. Siam etc) are also very evident on their weaponry.

    16. @春秋戰國
      Later Ly to Ho dynasty Era: Fubing system from Tang dynasty.
      Later Le to Early Tay Son Era: Ming dynasty military system with modifications.
      Taken from "Lịch triều hiến chương loại chí" (歷朝憲章類誌 lit. Various dynasty encyclopedia).

  3. Since the Zhao Jia is commonly worn by northern soldiers who are usually mounted, what kind of armor(s) would southern infantry wear?

    1. Zhao Jia as well, usually (but not always) only waist or thigh length.

  4. http://blogfiles.naver.net/20150329_124/53traian_1427563969981mv11C_JPEG/mongol_japan.jpg

    Is this a mongol armor or qing armor?

    some data claim this is a mongol armor

    1. Unmistakably Qing, probably late Qing even. Japanese mislabeled the armour.

      If the size (especially the siyah) is any indication, the bow on the side is probably a Qing bow, or Qing-influenced Mongol bow.

  5. Have I understood correctly that the 罩甲, Zhao Jia, is a description of form, i.e. long skirted/sleeveless/collarless? But it could be of various material, e.g. scale, brigandine, mountain pattern etc.

    1. Yes, and it is not necessary long skirted and not necessary even armoured.

  6. Did the Chinese ever developed equivalent of elbow and kneepads? I would assume it's difficult to armor these joints and still maintain mobility.

    1. No AFAIK. They usually just extend the armour skirt to cover the knees.

      The manica-like armguard does protect the elbow.

    2. I've seen knee pads on a Song period warrior sculpture from southwest China. So I think knee pads did exist, but they were probably not commonly used or limited to certain regions.

    3. Do you have a picture of it?

  7. Very comprehensive analysis.

    Just a note though, it seems the samurai of the period had leather shoes or boots for riding, but they might not be considered part of the set of the Gusoku.


    1. I am aware of it. Samurai did ride horse sometimes after all so they got to have some riding equipment top. It just isn't as common as the waraji.

  8. Do you have a picture of inside of chinese brigandine?

    1. This is an example of a Qing brigandine for the rank and file, with iron plates only cover the bare necessity of body.


    2. do you think ming brigandine use simillar size of plate as this one?

      and do you know how many rivets were use to hold each plate and their locations

    3. @s ss
      Probably similar, although not many Ming brigandine survived so I can't be sure.

      For rivets, depending on the location, two to four rivets. Body plates have three, for example.

  9. The illustration of samurai armour, though done during Edo era is actually the classic O-yoroi type during the Heian era. The boxy cuirasse with a lot of colourful lacing, large shoulder guards are indicators of the old style. Sengoku and subsequent Edo era armour are tighter fitting lamellar with less lacing and sometimes riveted like European armour. Some also use Portuguese style full plate cuirasse.

    1. I identify the armour as a more contemporary version mainly due to its seven kusazuri instead of the usual four, found on O-yoroi armour. Its Do also strikes me as quite curved.

      The sode are indeed larger than most sengoku period armour, which I think is also an attempt to reincorporate O-yoroi elements into Edo period armour.

    2. Agree, it's the Edo equivalent of O-yoroi. It is interesting because it was deemed as cumbersome and impractical during the Sengoku period. Worn mostly by Daimyo who want to show their ancient lineage. Curiously, it did retain the style where the right arm has no sleeve guard to make drawing the bow easier (a characteristic of Heian era horse archers). But as you said, using sandals is more for foot combat. The actual Heian armour set includes some form of furry shoes / boots.

    3. Updated my blog post slightly to include the sode change.

      Kote was originally archery sleeve that protect the left arm from being hit by bowstring (from botched shooting), that's why only the left arm has it originally.

  10. As there were no wars during the Edo period, the Japanese greatly romanticised the samurai image and had gone back to the classical style.

  11. any protection between ming long coat armor?

  12. Replies
    1. If you mean what is worn beneath the armour, most likely only normal clothing.

    2. so middle spot is compeletly vulunerable right?

    3. I still don't really get yoir question, but if you mean lower midriff (that body part not protected by Samurai armour), Ming long coat armour doesn't have this problem.

    4. What I mean

      If Ming long coat armor is not overlapped would'nt that make middle of torso compeletly vulnerable?

    5. No? Although the plates didn't overlap there isn't any gap either.

  13. I know ow the use of chainmail armor is somewhat limited or even rare in East Asia compared to other parts of the world, but would it be known that a shirt of mail would be used in conjunction with these armors? I'm curious if this was historical since I am planning in the future to assemble my own suit of late Ming and early Qing styled brigandine armor.

    1. @Unknown
      All I can say is "possible".

      On one hand, mail armour was worn under other armour since Tang period (we got a mural from Dunhuang to prove it), although it was evidently quite rare. In the rare case that someone was described as wearing multiple layers of armour (i.e. 兀顏光 from Water Margin), he was often described as something extraordinary.

      On the other hand, many Qing painting depicts officers wearing mail shirt alone.

    2. I see. I know that Japanese mail used both techniques, but do you know if Chinese mail was riveted and or butted?

    3. Chinese mail is 4-in-1 Riveted.

    4. Thanks for the info! I'll keep watching this blog as there's not a great deal of sites that go in depth with Chinese arms and armor like yours. And whenever this suit will come together, hopefully sometime next year, I'd like to share it to get your input!

    5. I will be looking forward to that.

  14. Ming brigandine pic

    1. Yes, I am aware of it, although I personally think that it is from early Qing (or Southern Ming contemporary to early Qing Dynasty).

    2. Mr chen

      where do you get this picture?


  15. https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-cSwntu_ux1g/VhWmOyi6-7I/AAAAAAAABGw/C-MSlGqNWjQ/s640/412.jpg

    I've never seen this kind of 2-piece armor

    especialy that skirt armor. Do you know anything about this?

    1. From 《王瓊事蹟圖冊》,a set of scrolls depicting Wang Qiong's(1459-1532) achievements.

      In this particular scroll Wang Qiong is the Military Commissioner of the 3 passes(Taiyuan border garrison).

      The individuals with waist length brigandine and brigandine tassets is presumably some sort of ensign/messenger.

    2. @Wansui
      Good day, it's been some time.

      To this date I am still not sure what to make of these "brigandine tassets". It is similar, yet also very different from Qing period "apron". I also remember there's one mural in Fire God Temple that depicts similar tassets, but on traditional Chinese armour.

  16. Great post, is there any reason why there is a significant difference between the Ming and the Qing armour, and what is the difference between Chinese armour and Mongolian armour?

    1. The change from one piece to two piece armour actually happened before the fall of Ming Dynasty. Qing simply inherited the latest armour style from Ming.

      Mongolian armours are (for the most part) direct copies of armours used by the cultures they fought with/conquered. So Mongols in China used mostly Chinese-style lamellar armour, while Mongols in Middle East used Middle Eastern-style armours, etc.

  17. I was looking for references for Chinese arms & armors and I've found your blog, which is amazing and I wanted to thank you for the articles,they are great!

    I also wanted to comment under this section because I am interested in Japanese arms & armors and I've been able in the past years to get proper and solid knowledge, and I have to say that your brief analysis and introduction on Tosei Gusoku is one of the best I've read in a non Japanese-themed blog (And I have to say that is even better than some Japanese-themed sources).

    If I might add something, I'll stress the fact that Tosei Gusoku in Japan were developed when the armorers switched from a lamellar construction to a solid plate and lames ones, to save time and money for the new demand of armors, in the mid-late 15th century.

    Also, armpit were protected by armor pieces like the Wakibiki, or the Manju no wa which was similar to european arming jacket and voiders.
    And the mid riff as you pointed out, in some armor was left unprotected, only covered with a thick obi. But some times there were hidden mail/brigandine section under the lacing or over it in the form of patches; sometimes the lacing was entirely replaced by mail/brigandine section, or made entirely with plates which leave no gap.

    On high end examples the breastplate, the sode, the suneate and even the shikoro to some extent were lined and covered by leather and or ieiji.

    Cavalry unit were deployed in some cases in Japan, especially in the Kanto region, so the warrior there used boots rather than straw sandals.

    The only thing I would change in this article is the picture you have used, Kuniyoshi is a great artist but his style is kinda "anachronistic".
    I would have used this picture:
    "Samurai with Iron Mask" by Kiyochika Kobayashi


    I'll hope you might find my comment interesting, and again nice job with all the content.


    1. Good day Luca and welcome to my blog! Glad you like my article. Your comment remind me of that one (large metal lames), I should update my blog post at some later time.

      As for armpit armour, I actually point that out in the picture (you can click on it if the text is too small to read). I only mention some auxiliary armour pieces because it is hard to go through every single one of them in a brief introduction article.

      The fur boot have been pointed out to me in one of the previous comments so I am aware of it (and samurai cavalry). That being said, this is a comparison between the "standard loadout" of three relatively well-off warriors, so I omitted less common equipment in the comparison.

      I pick the Kuniyoshi artwork because it is the only one I found with a samurai standing in complete loadout while facing a similar direction as the other two Chinese warriors. Your picture is in many way better than what I found, although the sode is sadly missing.

    2. Rule number one: read twice.
      I've noticed just now that the wakibiki were indeed mentioned in the picture, sorry, my fault.

      I think your choice of artwork is a good one. Although is an ukiyo e, the picture is looking good in the comparison with the Qing and the Ming soldier.
      In the artwork of Kobayashi a late and mature tosei gusoku is depicted, by that time at the beginning of the Edo period, Sode were seldom worn, they were directly integrated in the kote (bishamon kote style) or abandoned in favor of small shoulder guards called kohire.

      If you are interested there is a similar picture with less armor, where the samurai is looking in the same direction of the two Chinese warriors, but this time waraji are missing which might be a problem as well.
      If this might be useful, I'll leave It here.
      The artwork is "Yamanaka Yukimori" by "Tsukiyoka Yoshitoshi"


      I think there is a lot of potential in this blog and in your work, I'll probably have future questions since you seems to be quite knowledgeable; hope this won't be annoying, feel free to answer when you'll have time!
      Have a nice day, Luca

    3. @Luca

      Add a line in the article that mentions the okegawa-do stuff.

      I wish I find your second picture earlier, that's certainly a better one! The accuracy of the armour certainly far outweight the missing waraji (and Horo, but that piece is not very common as well so I won't miss it)! I will probably find a time to update it into the blog post.

      I am also trying to find a good Joseon Korean warrior painting to no avail. Then again, as Joseon Dynasty survived well into 19th century, I do not known which period is appropriate.

    4. While I'm quite confident with my resources on Japanese armor inside art, I don't think I could help at all with Joseon artwork.

      On a side note, I know that it was fairly fashionable for samurai warriors of the Azuchi Momoyama period using Chinese elements on their helmets, both for decorative and defensive purpose. For example, Chinese and Korean helmet bowls were used. Do you know if cuirass or other armor element did reach Japan?

      Also, do you know if it was true the reverse situation? Did Mainland people used Japanese armor elements?

    5. I also vaguely remember Oda Nobunaga putting on a Ming coin as his banner.

      Can't speak for the Korean either. For the Chinese, Japanese influence is more evident on their weapon rather than armour (sword, Changdao, arquebus). However, this armour...specifically the neck armour on the mask, seems very Japan-like.


    6. This is definetely something I would love to further research and investigate, both for armors and weapons.

      At least to me, It seems quite unlikely that there was any influences in the 16th century, especially for Japan since the foundation of their early armor was Chinese.

      That throat guard is quite similar to a Japanese yodare kake indeed.

      By the way, is there any survivals/ reference other than manuals depictions of the 龍鱗甲 and 鞋底甲?

      Because I Think that gyorin zane armour in Japan might came from these Styles.

    7. I'm no expert on Japanese armors, but based on my vague knowledge, I would say that Japanese armors are most similar to the Chinese armors during the Age of Fragmentation, around 3rd to 6th centuries AD. After that they sort of diverged onto their own paths, with Chinese armors being influenced by Central Asian armors, while Japanese armors developed their own unique styles. I definitely wouldn't call 16th century Japanese armors as mere copies of Chinese armors.

    8. @TheXanian

      Sure, it would be a on over semplification.
      Early Japanese armor was probably Chinese in design, or Korean.
      I have been really interested in the topic of Japanese armor and I came here to see if there were some sources saying that the Chinese used Japanese armors or viceversa, influences included.

      During the late 16th century, in Japan armor became a status symbol and a way to be recognizable in the midst of the battles, so some warriors started to use weird and fancy helmets, incorporating both Chinese and European features.
      It would be interesting to see if something else comes up!

    9. @Luca Nic

      Unfortunately, there's no other reference on those armours.....Well, there's one surviving brass scale armour, possibly late Qing, that is somewhat similar to 渾金甲, although that one has no helmet, sleeves,and boots.

      There's some discussion among Ming officials, I forget which period, to import Japanese armours, but that plan did not come to fruitition. Some Japanese (captured during Wokou campaign or Imjin War) also served in Korean and Ming army.

      Koxinga certainly had access to Japanese armour, but only in limited number.

      Scale armour are actually very rare in China, lamellar (later brigandine) being the norm.

  18. I wonder how a typical southern Chinese warrior compared to the three warriors listed here. It seems that the southern Chinese had some rather unique styles of armors made out of rattan, paper, and leather. And it also seems that the southern Chinese retained the Song style lamellar armor for much longer. I heard that there was a set of Ming iron lamellar armor unearthed in Guangzhou, and after reconstruction it looked very similar to the Song armors depicted on the military manual Wujing Zongyao.

    1. @TheXanian

      The Southerners used a different style of helmet. They typically did not use armguards, has different footwears (shoes or waraji-like sandals) and used shorter (waist length to knee length) armour, but otherwise still the same old Zhao Jia.

      Rattan was actually rarely used for armour except for helmet and shield.

      The notion that traditional-style lamellar was used in South China for much longer is a speculation, albeit probably accurate. There's is a Qing period painting by two Japanese eyewithnesses that shows some Chinese troops still use traditional armours in the 19th century.

      There seems to be some issues with the reconstruction of that Guangzhou lamellar, but it shouldn't be too far off...I hope.

    2. If I remember correctly, there were at least two types of rattan armors being mentioned in Ming military manuals. The first one was a waist-length armor made out of rattan canes in a woven manner, kind of like a rattan version of the mail armor. It has to be soaked in tung oil and then dried, and this process needs to be repeated several times. The second one is a type of lamellar armor made of small rattan plates, and it is said to be used by the marines.

    3. @The Xanian
      True, and both rattan armours can be found in my other blog posts. But they were rarely used.

  19. NOTE: I updated the blog post with a more historically accurate painting of the samurai, along with some minor editing on the article. For those interested in the old picture, you can find it here: