Li Pai (立牌)

Different types of Song Dynasty Li Pai. From 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Li Pai (立牌, lit. 'Standing shield'), also known as Bang Pai (傍牌, lit. 'Leaning shield') and Bu Bing Pang Pai (步兵旁牌, lit. 'Infantry's side shield'), is a type of free-standing shield, or pavise, used by Chinese troops during Song period. It is functionally identical to Ming period Ai Pai (挨牌). In fact, these terms may all refer to the same general type of shield.


Yu Long De's Improved Li Pai
Ming Chinese Bulletproof Pavise
Drawing of Yu Long De's Li Pai, from 'Yu Zi Shi San Zhong Mi Shu Bing Heng (《喻子十三種秘書兵衡》'.
Late Ming military thinker Yu Long De (喻龍德) commented on the strengths and weaknesses of traditional shield making materials: bamboo is stiff and heavy; rattan is lighter than bamboo, but easily flammable; while cowhide is supple and fire (and musket) resistant, but sinks in water and thus cannot be used as raft. He opted to create a better design that combines the best features of various materials yet has none of the weaknesses.

The Li Pai designed by Yu Long De is four chi tall and two chi wide, and is made of rattan woven on wooden frame, then covered by a layer of cowhide. The shield thus combines the lightweight and sturdiness of rattan, the toughness and fire resistance of cowhide, as well as the buoyancy of wood. Additionally, the shield comes with a vertical bar handle, six loops for holding pole weapons, as well as several peepholes and gun loops.

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