7 September 2016

Weaponised shields of the Ming Dynasty


Throughout the long history of Ming Dynasty, Chinese had developed all kinds of combination weapons, and shield was no exception. Unlike most other Ming combination weapons which are often gimmicky and impractical, These shields are somewhat more practical and saw limited field use, although they were still far from the most common equipment on the battlefield. 

It should be noted that shields that only have built-in gun loops, such as Wu Di Shen Pai (無敵神牌), as well as firearms that have gun shields, like Xun Lei Chong (迅雷銃), are not covered by this blog post.

Shen Xing Po Zhen Meng Huo Dao Pai (神行破陣猛火刀牌, lit. 'Marvelous travelling, formation breaking, raging fire blade shield')

Ming Chinese Flamethrower Shield
Drawing of a Shen Xing Po Zhen Meng Huo Dao Pai, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Shen Xing Po Zhen Meng Huo Dao Pai is a weaponised shield derived from Yan Wei Pai (燕尾牌). It is made of fire-resistant cowhide, with the top portion of the shield painted with the head of a Chinese dragon or other fierce mythological beasts, while the lower portion contains up to thirty-six muzzles for Pen Tong (噴筒) linked to a single fuse. When ignited, Pen Tong spit out intense flame, poisonous smoke and shrapnel of all kinds to a range of two to three zhang, allowing the shieldbearer to harm his enemy from outside the reach of long weapons such as spear and pike, or at least causing enough disruption for him to rush in with a sword.

Due to weight limitation, Shen Xing Po Zhen Meng Huo Dao Pai only carries enough gunpowder charge for one shot, although it can still be used like a normal shield after exhausting its charge.

Gun Di Shen Huo Tuan Pai (滾地神火團牌, lit. 'Ground rolling divine fire round shield')

Drawing of a Gun Di Shen Huo Tuan Pai, from a Qing Dynasty print of 'Huo Long Jing (《火龍經》)'.

Back view of Gun Di Shen Huo Tuan Pai, from a Qing Dynasty print of 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
Gun Di Shen Huo Tuan Pai is a weaponised shield derived from Teng Pai (藤牌). It is a round rattan shield with the image of a tiger painted on its surface, and contains seven muzzles for Peng Tong that can project flames and poisonous smoke to up to several chi.

Due to the comparative shorter range of Gun Di Shen Huo Tuan Pai's Pen Tong, its wielder must take antidote beforehand to avoid being harmed by the poisonous smoke from his own shield.

Bao Sheng Pai (保生牌, lit. 'Life-preserving shield')

Bao Sheng Pai is a weaponised shield recorded in military treatise Wu Bian (《武編》), albeit without an accompanying illustration. From description, it incorporates fifteen small guns connected to a single trigger (probably a wheellock or similar device) that can be operated by the left hand holding the shield. Once the trigger is pulled, all fifteen guns fire simultaneously.

Hu Tou Huo Pai (虎頭火牌, lit. 'Tiger Head Fire Shield')

Ming Dynasty Firearm Shield
Unpainted (left) and painted (right) Hu Tou Huo Pai, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Ming Chinese Rocket Gun-shield
Back view of the Hu Tou Huo Pai, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Hu Tou Huo Pai is a weaponised shield derived from Ai Pai (挨牌) that incorporates a rocket pod that carries either ten full-sized Shen Ji Jian (神機箭) or twenty smaller Meng Jian (猛箭). The rockets are launched through a large hole in the middle of the shield (corresponding to the gaping mouth of the painted tiger) which is normally sealed with a detachable cover mounted on the pod itself. 

The shield is suitable to be used on ship as well as on land.

Hu Tou Mu Pai (虎頭木牌, lit. 'Tiger head wooden shield')

Ming Chinese Rocket Shield
Front (right) and back (left) of Hu Tou Mu Pai, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Hu Tou Mu Pai is also derived from Ai Pai and comes with a large gun loop (corresponds to the glabella of the painted tiger) for Shen Qiang (神鎗) and two smaller peepholes (correspond to eyeballs of the the painted tiger) used for observation. It also incorporates four rectangular firing ports for small rocket pods, which are are mounted on rotating sliders and can be quickly swapped out after use. The sliders also double as covers for the firing ports when not in use.

Replica Ming Dynasty Rocket Pavise
Replica Hu Tou Mu Pai (unpainted), with its four rocket pods  into ready position. Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution.
Hu Tou Mu Pai is five chi tall, one chi seven cun wide, and three fen thick. It is covered in cowhide, and its top rim is reinforced with iron.

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