23 December 2016

Gong Cheng Lin Chong Lu Gong Che (攻城臨衝呂公車)

Ming Chinese Belfry
Stylised illustration of a Lu Gong Che, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志 》)'.
 Gong Cheng Lin Chong Lu Gong Che (攻城臨衝呂公車, lit. 'City-siege approaching assault cart of Lord Lu'), often shortened to Lin Chong Lu Gong Che (臨衝呂公車, lit. 'Approaching assault cart of Lord Lu') or simply Lu Gong Che (呂公車, lit. 'Cart of Lord Lu'), is the Chinese siege tower. It is named after the semi-legendary Lu Shang (呂尚), better known as Jiang Zi Ya (姜子牙).

A Lu Gong Che is an imposing siege engine designed with the primary purposes of providing suppressive fire, battering down battlement on the wall, and breaching the wall itself, as well as the secondary purpose of delivering soldiers over the wall. It is usually built to the same height as, or higher than, the defensive wall it is intended to breach, and is equipped with numerous additional siege equipments such as battering rams, stone throwers, siege crossbows, cannonscloud ladders, gangplanks and hooks. For protection, Lu Gong Che is usually covered in rawhides to prevent the enemy from setting it on fire, or cotton blankets when incendiary weapon wasn't a concern. Similar to Cyrus the Great's War Tower, Chinese siege towers can be pulled by draught animals.

Chinese siege engineers had been building siege towers of various sizes since antiquity (although it was known by many other names before Ming period), and continued to employ them as late as Red Turban Rebellion. After the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, Lu Gong Che largely went out of fashion as the unified Chinese dynasty no longer had cities to siege, and firearms rendered siege tower obsolete. On the other hand, it was sometimes used by rebels and even Wokou (倭寇) to lay siege on Chinese cities.

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