21 February 2015

Bamboo and wooden armours of the Ming Dynasty

Bamboo armour
Chinese Bamboo Helmet
A Qing period bamboo hat helmet, probably used by the militia. (Source: Trocadero)
Ming army never make use of bamboo body armour, except very rarely as helmet. Nevertheless, one peculiar group did find the bamboo armour useful — warrior monks from Shaolin Monastery. Since warrior monks were often recruited to aid government efforts in combating Wokou (倭寇), so some form of protection must be necessary.

Other than Shaolin monks, Mao Hu Lu Bing (毛葫蘆兵), many of whom also came from Henan province, also made use of bamboo armour in the form of greaves.

Wooden armour
Man Wen Lao Dang (《滿文老檔》) records of the only instance of the use of wooden armour (worn together with leather armour) by Ming troops. However, this should be treated as a rare outlier, rather as the norm.


  1. I'm interested of the 朱 word (my sir name as well) printed on the Helmet. :)
    I know Ming Dynasty is national sir name, is that why they printed on it? why not 明?

  2. @Choo Keat Key
    That particular helmet is from the Qing period (there would be aversion of using Imperial surname in most Chinese dynasties, so writing 朱 on a Ming-period helmet without authorization will most probably result in death penalty).

    If your look carefully at this helmet, it actually reads something like "溪朱洞", which is (probably, I am just guessing) indicative of the place of the origin of the troop wearing this helmet.

  3. Thank you for the reply! interesting, there are so many stuff to read from your blog.
    Thanks again for sharing!


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