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March 8, 2014
Table of Contents
1 Introduction
Chinese armour


China has a long history of armour and weapons development. China have many variety of armour, but the most used was the Lamellar armour|lamellar and scaled varieties.

Image:Qinarmor.jpg|thumb|Qin armor
Most armour of ancient China was made of leather and animals hide, but later bronze and iron was used. One of the early armour that was used, was from Shang. Early Shang nobles wore breastplates, that was made by pieces of shell tied together. The bulk of the army had little more than shields, made of leather with a bamboo frame. Bronze helmets were used and were highly decorated. After the defeat of the Shang, the Chou used many weapons and types of equipment that originally came from the Shang. However, the Chou incorporated some of their own different or unique styles of armour. One type was the kia, a sleeveless coat of animal hide formed on a wooden dummy. The hide used was of buffalo and rhinoceros, buffalo was more often used later on, because of the disappearing of rhinoceros in the region. Another armour used by the Chou was the kiai, a boiled leather on a fabric backing. The Chou helmet - like the Shang - was made of bronze, but less decorated. Chariot was used extensively during the Spring and Autumn Period. The chariots was mostly used as a shock weapon. But it was restricted to flat terrains and against well organize infantry, it was often defeated. The chariot used declined during the Warring States Period, probably because of the introduced of crossbow and cavalry. Chou chariots were protected by leather, and sometimes came with a canopy to protect the crew, but this was probably removed before going into battle. Chariot horses were protected by animals skin, most popular was tiger skin. The production of weapons was, in most states, control by the central government. The most popular weapon of the time was the sword. For this reason, most armour was made to protect against slashing attack. Spears, dagger-axes and many other weapons were used, but were consider inferior to the sword in close combat. Another weapon that was used was the crossbow, which had a range of 600 paces. To counteract this, shields were used to counter the threat of the crossbow. The shields were mostly made of leather and wood, and varied in sizes. The metal that was used most for military purpose was bronze. Wrought iron begun to appear in the 5th century BC, but didn???t begin to replace bronze until the 2nd century BC. Most of the Warring States maintain large armies, numbered anyway from 30,000 to 100,000. With such a large numbered of men, certainly they will not be all armour. Armour were most common for ???elite??? soldiers. Some terracotta warriors that was found, wore no armour, it is suggest that those men was skirmisher or was support troops for the chariots. Small traces of paint that were found on Ch???in terracotta warriors suggest that the Ch???in used iron armour and weapons. The terracotta warriors also showed a wide variety of armour used by the Ch???in, which included leather and bronze. Examples of armour from the ancient China is rare. Qin Shi Huang order weapons and probably armour too, to be burn. That might be the cause of such few examples of ancient armour.


Medieval Armour
Han thus the Tang dynasty


Chinese armour developments in medieval times, start with the fall of the Qin dynasty in 207 BC and the rise of the Han dynasty in 202 BC. The early Han army numbered possibely in hundred of thousands, so armour was standized to meet the need . One of the armour used by the Han was the liang-tang, which mean "double-faced armour", a lamellar cuirass maded of usually of leather, but may also be maded with metal, which was worn over the shoulder with strip. This armour was used both by the infantry and the cavalry. A much more heavy and expensive verison was worn by offices, it consisted of iron plates lanced together. Infantry was armed with a great variety of weapons which included sword, spear, halberd, and crossbow. The cavalry was armed much the same as the infantry, but used a smaller crossbows compara to the infantry, which could be used mounted. Shield continued to be used, mostly made of wood or metal. Some source suggest, that the Han will placed infantrymen with large heavy shield in front, while crossbowmen and archers will be behind them. As they march the front ranks will repeal attack, as the rear constatly shower the enemy, but this formation must have been rare. Armour for horse begin to appear around the end of the Han dynasty, but the earliest armour found date back to 302 AD. Full armour for cavalry begin to appear durning the 4th century AD. During the Three Kingdoms Period, fully armour cavalry was extensively used for shock. Early armour for horse came in one piece, but later armour come in five main pieces,chanfron, which protect the head, neck, chest, and shoulder guard and flank pieces and crupper. Most cavalry served as mounted archers, and sometime remove they arms protection to used they bow or crossbow. By the time of the Han, the primary metal used was iron. But bronze weapons and armour continued to be used for sometime.

( in progress )

By the 19th century, most armour was worn mostly for ceremonial purposes and was an indicator of rank. The kind of armour that was largely used was the Brigandine, a type of armour consisting of a leather or cloth garment lined with metal plates inside. Sometimes, the plates were made in different sizes and shapes to maximize protection. Chinese brigandine comes in five pieces: the vest, pauldrons, skirting, underarm, and groin section. By contrast, the Korean version of this armour is a single piece. Brigandine was first seen in China and Korea in the 12th century AD and was used up to the 19th century AD. Armour use began to decline after the introduction of firearms, but shields continued to be used. Most Chinese soldiers of the times went without armour of any kind and mostly wore civilian clothing.

Men-at-arms/ Ancient Chinese Armies

Men-at-arms / Late Imperial Chinese Armies

Link ( have some pictures of brigandine) (have many art depicted Chinese armour)

Category:Personal armor
Category:Military history of China

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chinese armour".

Last Modified:   2005-11-04

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