Author Topic: Armor protection  (Read 8384 times)

Offline Jamould

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Armor protection
« on: March 27, 2011, 12:48:46 PM »
Just wondering What would provide more protection. A Do-maru or Tosei gusoku
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 03:54:11 AM by Jamould »

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2011, 08:56:44 PM »
You mean "souhei gusoku"?

The sohei were warrior-monks, either samurai who joined the temple staff young, or retired samurai/nobility who often used the temples as a retirement home.  Either way, they were among the most feared troops in Japan.  (You don't retire from being samurai unless you've managed to avoid being killed for quite some time.  That probably means you're dangerous.)

The gusoku is a monk's robe.  These were worn with or over armor, in the case of the sohei.  Therefore, the robe does not really tell you anything about what kind of armor is under it.

Likewise, do-maru only refers to how the armor is constructed, i.e. the torso armor fastened on the side.  (This generally indicated a better quality of armor than the haramaki-do, which fastened in the back and was kind of one-size-fits-all designed to be issued to whoever.  But that's a huge generalization.)  A lot of other factors, like material used (mainly iron or leather), other details of construction (for example, large or small sode - shoulder plates), and its overall condition will likely make a larger difference than the type of construction.

For game purposes, since the game engine does not provide for wearing multiple layers of whatever, the souhei gusoku come in several varieties with different degrees of armor under each.  There are also several varieties of do-maru.

So the question is just not that simple.

Offline Jamould

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2011, 04:42:53 AM »
No, sorry I mean a Tosei gusoku as in these pages www.myarmoury.com/feature_jpn_armour.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_armour The coined phrase they put next to "Tosei Gusoku" is "Modern armor"

If you do a  search for "Tosei Gusoku" on these pages you should be able to find the bits I mean

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2011, 09:18:31 AM »
Ah, I found the phrase in question on that page.  (Sometimes it's tough to figure out what people mean when the original language doesn't use the same alphabet as you do.)  The term there just refers to anything post-15th century, modern or recent designs, like saying "renaissance armors" in Europe.  It doesn't refer to any particular design.  In that sense, most of the do-maru and haramaki-do lamellar designs would fall under that category.  I am not sure if that is the only use of the term, as my command of Japanese is minimal and I don't have the Japanese characters to compare.

Still, like most Japanese armor descriptions, it doesn't tell you much about the protective properties.  The descriptions are more oriented toward the way it was constructed or fastened than actually detailing the material and equivalent protective properties.  The only real exception in Japan was O-yoroi, which translates like "great armor" and pretty much universally refers to the most extreme of the Japanese armors.  Anything else could pretty much be light or heavy, complete or only parts, and the descriptions more likely to talk about how it was laced together than how well it keeps your limbs attached to your torso.

This is really not unique to Japan ... European maille, for example, came in variants from the quite heavy hauberks of the Crusades to lightweight vests intended to be concealed under street clothing.  Brigandine, scale or lamellar armors could be hardened leather or steel.  Even two pieces that were intended to be rather similar could vary greatly in protective properties, as they were not mass produced.  Even if you agree on a standard, it can be tough to compare armors, as there are different kinds of damage (incision, laceration, blunt trauma) and a virtually infinite array of angles and forces from which armor can be hit ... sometimes the results don't go as expected.  For instance, Spanish troops in Mexico found out that bulletproof steel breastplates could be pierced by obsidian-tip spears and arrows.  In the less absurd but more common, the difference of an arrow going through or being stopped could just be a difference of the impact point being a quarter inch one way or the other.  This sort of thing is true no matter if you're talking about modern flak vests or Japanese lamellars or Roman lorica or a motorcycle helmet ... they're not entirely uniform construction, and what might hit them and how is even less predictable.

It's just not a simple question.  Can't just pull a straight answer out of my hat.

Offline Jamould

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2011, 11:06:15 AM »
Thanks, for the very detailed explanation.
One other thing, what armor was predominantly worn around 1700 to 18XX?

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2011, 05:54:58 PM »
By the 1700's, firearms were tending to dominate the battlefield.  In Japan, the ashigaru (peasant soldiers, not samurai) were wearing little armor.  Helmets were still common, as falling objects were still a threat, but otherwise armor for low-ranking people was considered excessive.  Among the higher ranking samurai and kuge (nobility), the largest changes in armor were heavier breastplates (often going to one-piece designs) to help turn gunfire.  Other than that, the appearance of the armor changed little.  That was, after all, the Tokugawa Shogunate ... there was really minimal large-scale combat going on at the time, so there was not the kind of rapid evolution of weapon and armor design you see during a major war.

For reasons that are difficult to explain, Japan did not start using field artillery the way Europe did.  This meant that body armor was still relatively effective during that period.  European armies had almost completely abandoned armor at the time, because grapeshot from cannon was just too much firepower for body armor to stop.  Musket ball, however, doesn't have that kind of knockdown.

(Historical note ... even as late as WW2, the Japanese army did not have a standard-design antitank gun.  Ironic, since wheeled-carriage antitank and infantry-support guns were among the most numerous weapons produced in Europe at the time.  Field guns never did catch on with the Japanese.)

Also note that Japanese weapons and armor changed in construction as much as the designs anywhere else, but for artistic reasons, the outer appearance of these designs changed little.  This leads many to conclude that the designs did not evolve, resulting in some very odd reasoning among people who call themselves historians.  On that note, the armor of Japan in the 1700's and 1800's looked a lot like the stuff that came before it, just to look at it.  The changes were subtle - mostly reinforced plates in areas most vulnerable to gunfire, and minor improvements in production techniques.

Offline Jamould

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2011, 06:05:32 AM »
Thanks for that

Offline Ichimonji Hidetora

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2012, 06:51:18 AM »
Yeah, Ron pretty much nailed it with this: "The term there just refers to anything post-15Th century", a tosei gusoku in domaru form would be somewhat more form fitting then a pre 16Th century domaru, but that would be the only significant difference, besides that a domaru (tosei gusoku or not), would be better then a normal steel plate or hardened leather nimai-do tosei gusoku, assuming the materials and plate thickness are comparable, the lamellar armor (do-maru) would be more protective because of the immense amount of overlap with the scales.
Back in the early 16Th century they would often have their old style domaru converted into a nimai-do by inserting metal rods horizontally behind each row of scales in order to make them rigid, then they would add a vertical hinge on the cuirass under the left armpit, and so the cuirass would be made of two halves (back and breast) instead of one piece that wraps around the torso, a lamellar nimai-do provides somewhat better protection because the rigidity will disperse the force of the impact over a large section of the cuirass, a domaru would still have been the better choice for samurai who had mediocre armed combat skills but were good at grappling and preferred the flexibility of the domaru.

Ron also said something about the materials used so I will explain a bit about that: you often can't tell the difference between steel or leather domaru because they are lacquered, collectors are known to use a magnet to find out if it's steel, leather, or a combination.
Unless a lot of lacquer has come off, in that case close examination could be enough to tell the difference.
Besides that the weight of the armor is also a good indication of the materials used in it's construction.
Also, domaru made of different materials will have different descriptions in Japanese: nerigawa kozane domaru (all hardened leather scales), tetsu kozane domaru (all hardened steel scales), and the most commonly seen type: tetsugawa kozane domaru (a mixture of steel and leaher scales where the scales are arranged in an alternating steel/leather pattern), kozane= small scales (rectangular in shape, not fish style scales).

Finally, it should be said that there are tosei gusoku that were made to be shot resistant, and so these armors will always provide a better protection then pre 16Th century armor of any type (at the cost of 2.5 to 3 times the weight), so in the end you might say that the tosei gusoku provides better protection (if it is shot resistant teppo tameshi armor), however... a normal plate nimai-do does not provide better protection then a scale nimaido or domaru.

I hope that was helpfull, and now for your second question...

A couple of decades after the Sengoku Jidai, in about 1625 to 1630, we see armor becoming more decorative, around this time it was the two nipple rings often with titty twisters... errr... I mean tassels attached to them, embossed armor also becomes somewhat more popular.
Later, during the early 18Th century, we see the appearance of extensively embossed plate armor, such a cuirass would be called uchidashi-do, the shoulder guards (sode) and the helmet would often also be embossed, here is an example:



The sode are signed: Myochin Osumi no kami Munesuke tsukuru (made by Myochin Munesuke, guardian of Osumi province), and dated: Kyoho mizunoto-u (1723). Interesting are the haidate that are made of steel scales made to look like mugwort leaves.

Besides that kind of armor we also see a return of the o-yoroi, a cuirass that has a separate armor flap under the right armpit to close the cuirass with, these o-yoroi were very decorative and of course created in tosei gusoku style (and thus form fitting), a very good example can be seen here:   http://elogedelart.canalblog.com/archives/2009/10/25/15564222.html
Likewise, domaru with o-sode (large shoulder guards) also became popular again, these so called revival armors were mostly intended just for show, but are fully functional non theless.

Other armor types that became very popular during the late Edo period are the karuta gane tatami-do, made of karuta gane (steel card-shaped plates, hence the name karuta, meaning card), and the kusari katabira (Google that for pictures, they are made of mail), and then there was the kikko-do, made from hexagonal plates, an example of that:



Well... that should about cover it, how was that for some straight answers?
I will get to the other posts and the PM later when I have time, Cheers!
"The arrow which felled the boar... belonged to Lord Ichimonji. Drink to him!"

Offline Jamould

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2012, 11:01:27 AM »
Thanks. When you say "Normal plate nimai-do" Do you mean it is constructed of one solid plate? As opposed to lames of Plates tied together?
So as you said the overlapping of the scales/lames would provide more protection.

And the Kikko-do, what was the advantage/reason to constructing it with Hexagonal plates? What would be the advantages/disadvantages of Hexagonal plates over rectangular plates?

Also Kusari katabira, were they worn as armor in their own right? Or were they an undercoat to the Lamellar armor, to cover up gaps etc?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 03:45:04 AM by Jamould »

Offline Ichimonji Hidetora

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2012, 07:28:38 AM »
The Japanese did not like to make the breastplate of one large piece of steel, instead they would make strips of steel plate and rivet them together in order to create the said "normal plate nimai-do".
In that case, the plates can either be arranged horizontally (yokohagi okegawa nimai-do), or vertically (tatehagi okegawa nimai-do).
Mind you that nimai-do can still be laced, especially if it's made of scales, as seen in kozane nimai-do, or when it's made to look like scales but is in fact plates (kiritsukezane nimai-do).
All of that variety can be very confusing, so mistakes are common.
And yes, the overlapping of scales, both horizontally and vertically would make the armor more protective, for example: a yokohagi okegawa nimai-do would be made of horizontal strips of steel that overlap eachother vertically, so at the points of overlap it would have two layers of steel instead of one, but a scale armor like a tetsu kozane do-maru would have the scales overlap eachother horizontally (two layers of steel), and then have each strip of scales also overlap vertically, that's four layers of steel right there... and so it provides better protection.

Kikko tend to be very small, much smaller then seen on the picture I showed, the advantage over the larger square plates is that they are even more flexible.
Even so, kikko-do can be made rigid, so in that case it's just a fashion thing... but they don't have to be rigid.
Kikko is very commonly seen on tosei-gusoku of many types in the form of; knee guards (tateage), armored collars (eri-sho), and small shoulder guards (kohire), mind you that kohire are permanently fixed to the cuirass and so are worn in addition to the other shoulder guards (sode).
In addition to that, manchira are also often made of kikko (manchira were introduced by the Portuguese, they fit under the cuirass to protect the armpits, you can Google the for pictures).

About the kusari katabira, they were worn in their own right, I have seen an early Meiji period picture showing a kiba musha (a mounted, and thus high ranking samurai) wear such an armor while charging imperial troops in uniform.
When faced with powerfull precision weapons like modern rifles, old style plate armor, no matter how thick, became obsolete, and so a light mail jacket and mail hood (kusari zukin) would do well enough against the occasional sword attack... unless they thrusted that is, and they often did thrust with swords, especially when faced with an armored opponent, as katana are extremely efficient when used this way.
Interestingly, right before the end of the Edo period there were quite a few samurai who were skilled in the use of modern rifles, so you can understand the popularity of light flexible armor at the time, because the heavier rigid plate armors had become nearly useless.
"The arrow which felled the boar... belonged to Lord Ichimonji. Drink to him!"

Offline Jamould

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2012, 11:59:37 AM »
Thanks for another detailed explanation, also looked up Kusari-zukin and found some really interesting pictures.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 03:49:59 AM by Jamould »

Offline Jamould

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Re: Armor protection
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2014, 03:53:51 AM »
Sorry for the late reply.

Here's the pics.