Military Review

Armor for the "poor samurai"

Armor for the "poor samurai"

Classic Samurai of the Heian era. On the tops of the helmets is a hole through which the crown of the eboshi cap is visible. It was believed that it was necessary so that through it the spirit of the god of war Hachiman entered the samurai. Huge side lapels of the back plate of a Sikoro helmet: fukigaesi did not allow to strike with a sword in the face from the side. Kuwagat horns are not yet in fashion. Fig. Angus McBride

Quail in the fields
Kvokhchut, kvokhchut: they must have decided
What a hawk napping.

Armor and weapon samurai of japan. In Japan in the Middle Ages, natural dyes were used to dye silk cords, which were highly resistant. And, of course, the most persistent colors are therefore used more often than others. In Japanese armor, lacing was very often used red - aka, orange - chi ("fiery"), raspberry - kurenai, black - kuro, green - midori, blue - con, yellow - ki, brown - cha ("tea") , white is shiro and violet is murasaki. The blue color that indigo dye gave was popular, since this dye protected silk from fading, but madder and soy, respectively red and violet colors, destroyed it, so that red-violet lacing had to be restored more often than others. Of course, there were always those who basically wore just such a lacing to show everything that "they can afford it." Well, the poorest wore black cords. They were stained with either soot or ink based on "ink nuts". Lovers of everything elegant used white oshoshige leather straps with red cherry blossoms embossed on them.

O-sode woven from white leather Odoshige cords with five-leaf sakura embossed on them

Beautiful armor full of insects

Needless to say, the Japanese armor was very beautiful and bright, but any beauty required considerable sacrifices, and the Japanese also had to pay a considerable price for their laced armor. For example, the tight lacing that decorated them on the outside only delayed the spear point - instead of letting it slip, it also got wet in the rain and became much heavier. In addition, to dry the armor in the field was worth a lot of work. However, their weight not only burdened the warrior. In the cold, wet cords froze, and removed armor became impossible to put on. Moreover, they broke at the same time! In addition, no washing could completely and completely clean the lacing from dirt, which inevitably got into it. Since there was no one to take care of her during the campaigns, the lacing began to smell foul, insects - ants and lice were planted in it, which far from best reflected on the health of the samurai and reduced the combat effectiveness of the whole army! So it is hardly a great exaggeration to say that in ancient times, in some cases, all these beautiful laced armor were a real collection of all kinds of nasty insects. Yes, of course, they were intertwined, the cords were washed, and the soaked armor was trying to dry by the fire ... But it is also obvious that all this fuss took a lot of time and energy from the soldiers!

Blue-white-red armor to the maru of the Muromachi period from the Tokyo National Museum with lacing in the kata-tsumadori odoshi style. This is the only known armor with this type of lacing. The height of the helmet is 15,0 cm, the cuirass is 32,5 cm. We note the wide head of the helmet (kasa-sikoro), characteristic of the XIV-XV centuries, and luxurious kuvagata with a vertical sword of Hachiman. Has the status of an important cultural heritage

Do-Maru Armor

Therefore, no matter how good the armor of o-yoy was, no matter how many samurai dreamed of it, not everyone had it. Therefore, those who were poorer were dressed in do-maru armor, which means “around the body”, which appeared at the same time as o-yora armor, and maybe even earlier. They also consisted of rows of plates laced together, but were only arranged in such a way that they did not need a separate vaidate plate. In the pre-maru it was possible to “wrap up” by wrapping it around the body, tying the straps on the right side. That is, to put on the maru was much easier and faster than o-yoyu armor.

This pre-maru armor consists of horizontal stripes made up of alternating leather and iron plates that are tied together and coated with black lacquer. The stripes are connected vertically. The upper part of the armor and shoulder pads are connected by purple, red and white cords, and the lower part by black leather straps. Attention is drawn to the geyo plates and the kusazuri skirt, which consists of seven small parts. The image of lions and peonies on the skin is characteristic of the Muromachi period. The height of the cuirass is 30,3 cm. Has the status of an important cultural asset

The popularity of the do-maru among the Japanese nobility is best evidenced by the fact that it was this armor made in 1570 that was presented to the King of England, James I, by the Shogun Tokugawa of Hydeath in 1610. Master Iwai Yozemon. Presumably the armor was intended by Takeda Katsuori. It was restored several times. Today is in the Royal Arsenal of the Tower

They usually didn’t have huge o-sode shoulders, and instead of two breast plates of different sizes, they began to use geyo plates in the form of a wood sheet, which were attached to the gates. The number of kusazuri increased to 7–8 sections, so that a servant dressed up in a home would be more comfortable walking or running next to his master’s horse. It became obvious that the o-yoroy armor was not suitable for the infantrymen, and as they became more and more, the popularity of armor until the Maru was constantly growing. And over time, even many noble samurai clothed them, although they wore them with o-sode shoulder pads to at least emphasize their high rank, but the armor itself tried to beautify better.

XIV century Samurai Fig. Angus McBride. 1 - a samurai who managed to put on only the side plate of the armor o-yoy; 2 - a samurai in fusube-kawatsutsumi-haramaki armor, but without a “coward plate”; 3 - a noble samurai in haramaki armor tied with white leather cords with a blue pattern

Haramaki-do: “armor that wound around the abdomen”

Another armor appeared in the XIV century. It was called haramaki-do (or just haramaki), which translates as "wrapping around the abdomen." It was also plate armor, but they were tied on the back. The rows of records did not meet there, so there was nowhere to place the agemaki node. But there is no knot - and o-sode cannot be fixed. But the solution was still found.

Kinkozan kurenai-ito-odoshi nakajiro haramaki is the full name of the haramaki armor, which in Russian will mean the following: haramaki armor made of golden sane, fastened with a red cord and decorated with a white cord in the center. Such armor was supposed to be worn by “poor samurai,” however, during the Azuti-Momoyama period, top-ranking military leaders began to order such armor, but wore it with huge o-sode shoulder pads. This armor supposedly belonged to Toyotomi Hideyori himself. Status is an important cultural asset

Just in this place an additional se-ita plate was placed - long and narrow and with one kusazuri below. However, it was believed that since the samurai could not turn his back to the enemy, he did not need this plate either. No wonder its name translates as “coward plate”. But on the other hand, she managed to attach an agemaki bow, which means she was wearing o-sode with this armor. So a rather strange hybrid of yoroy-haramaki appeared with shoulder pads from old and expensive o-yoroy armor, although the armor itself was much lighter, more comfortable and ... cheaper!

Haramaki armor. Muromachi period, XV century. Status is an important cultural asset

Haraate Armor: Nowhere Easier!

There were more and more infantrymen in the samurai army, and it was very difficult to equip them all with armor. Japanese gunsmiths found a way out in haraate armor (“belly protection”), similar to an apron with an apron. They had six rows of plates connected by the smallest number of cords. This “apron” was held with the help of shoulder straps with buttons and ties that crossed on the back. Kusazuri usually had only three, or even one, that covered the warrior's very lower abdomen. Instead of a helmet with haraate, they wore happuri - a half mask of black lacquered metal on the forehead, cheeks and whiskey, and the simplest kote bracelets made of leather. But the convenience of the haraate was also noticed by the Japanese military elite, and its representatives began to wear this armor with their everyday clothes (or rather, it will be said, underneath) in order to be saved in case of an unexpected attack.

Haraate, XVI century. Historical Matsaura Museum, Nagasaki Prefecture

Restoration of old armor in the middle of the XIX century was very expensive, which means that making them was hardly cheaper. So, the manufacture of Do-Maru armor in 1856 cost 215 gold ryos, seven years later they gave 300 ryos for a copy of the o-ryu, and they took 1534 ryos for the restoration of the helmet of the famous craftsman Myochin Nobui in 1865 in 19! Then ryo contained about 3 grams of gold. So, 300 ryo in today's terms would equal the value of almost a whole kilogram of gold!

Hand and foot protection

Although it is clear that armor should protect not only the torso and head, but also other parts of the body, the first bracers, moreover, for the left hand holding the bow, Japanese armor began to appear on the Japanese armor only at the end of the XII century. On the right was only the magnificent sleeve of the under-armor robes of the hitatar, and this was considered quite enough. The bracelet on the left hand also looked unusual - the kote, which looked like a baggy sleeve, which should be worn separately. It was trimmed with plates, and to protect the back of the hand had a profiled tecco plate, which was attached to the back of the palm with two loops for the middle and thumb. Thanks to these loops, neither this plate, nor the sleeve itself could be “lost". Here are just the left sleeve of the hitatar, as magnificent as the right one, it could not fit inside the rather narrow kote, so it was lowered from the hand and carried under armor, tucking it in the belt. That is, its basis was fabric, which is why early kote samples were not preserved. From the XNUMXth century kote on both hands came into fashion, and the fourteenth century. chain mail began to be sewn onto the fabric, and now they are preserved to our time and are exhibited in Japanese and foreign museums.

Carapace of the Oda-Gote of the XNUMXth – XNUMXth centuries They were characterized by protective plates that had the shape of a pumpkin - fukube. If there were ribs on them, then such plates were called siva-fukube. Small rectangular plates woven into chain mail were called Icada

By the way, unlike other countries, in Japan chain mail as such began to be used very late, only during the Edo period. Before that, it was usually sewn onto fabric or leather, and, of course, it was also covered with black varnish, even when the color of all other details of the armor was different. The design of Japanese chain mail was very original and not similar to the European one. For example, one round ring was connected to four or six rings, that is, four- and hexagonal weaving were used. Such chain mail was tightly laid on the fabric, and it was convenient to connect its rings with metal plates. But the main difference was that the Japanese connected the rings end-to-end, or they made each ring from two to three turns of wire and, when assembling, wound the rings one after another, as is done with modern keyring key rings.

Namban-hussars or “chain mail of the southern barbarians” came to Japan only in the XNUMXth century, and although the Japanese liked them, they continued to reduce their chain mail rings, as before,! Kote made entirely of chain mail was a rarity: the Japanese still more trusted plate armor. Until the XNUMXth century, the legs of the riders did not seriously defend themselves. Samurai wore ordinary sandals and wore tight coils on their calves. But then Kutsu shoes, trimmed with bear fur, and suneate leggings appeared.

Kutsu. Portland Museum of Art

Usually they were made of three metal or leather plates, connected with loops. The plates were varnished and decorated with gilded ornaments. Kahan cloth was worn under the suneate so that they would not rub their legs. They were attached to the shins with the help of silk cords that were tied behind.

Tsutsu-suneate with knee pads made of hexagonal plates sewn onto fabric

Later, already in the XIV century, plate-like knee-pads of the same-oge and tate-oge (with large knee pads) were attached to the greaves, and fur shoes now became the privilege of only the most distinguished samurai. Since, during the jump of the kusazuri plate, the haramaki-do armor often left the hips open, they were first tried to protect them with metal plates sewn directly onto the pants. But it turned out that it was not very convenient, therefore, special haidate legguards were invented, which were something like a forked cloth apron, sheathed on the outside with metal or leather plates.

Chain Haidate of the XNUMXth – XNUMXth centuries

Haidate often tied or fastened with buttons under the knees, which made them look like ... armored pants. True, walking in them and riding was not very convenient, so they were not widely used. There were leggings entirely of chain mail sewn onto fabric (kusari-suneate). Their noble warriors wore under their trousers, but since they could not protect against strong blows, they did not receive distribution.

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
Plates and Cords: Armor of the Land of the Rising Sun
Armor History Land of the Rising Sun
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  1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
    Kote Pan Kokhanka 4 July 2020 05: 48
    Great! For me, the educational program on the armor of the country of the rising sun continues !!!
    Regards, Vlad!
    P.S. First, Kote was transferred to the bracers, then they began to take the bears to the Sabatons! The entertainers however !!! laughing
    1. Catfish
      Catfish 4 July 2020 20: 12
      Hello, hello! Reread about the exploits of the Japanese Navy. And flip through the Tokyo process, at least for the raid of the cruisers Aob and Kinugas. I think your enthusiasm will decrease.
      1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
        Kote Pan Kokhanka 4 July 2020 21: 09
        Good evening Konstantin!
        Japanese sandalwood good prize, for a normal Russian cat! At least for Mukden and Tsushima !!!
        They don’t like cats, at least those I know.
        1. Catfish
          Catfish 4 July 2020 22: 33
          Tsushima to a light bulb, digested for a long time, but chewing a warm liver on the teeth of a samurai somehow does not fit in my brain ... Sorry ....
          1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
            Kote Pan Kokhanka 4 July 2020 23: 07
            Schizonuty, what to take from them! They will behave badly - chop off Hokaido!
            1. Catfish
              Catfish 4 July 2020 23: 29
              Vlad, do not be angry, I wish you would live with your jokes to the general shoulder straps.
              But ento is unlikely. They don’t understand you. It's about Hokkaido.
              Brother, I have great respect for you, but there is a limit to everything. Sorry.
              1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
                Kote Pan Kokhanka 5 July 2020 06: 05
                It’s a joke, probably from the realization that the Japanese, but indeed many are “an angry, stubborn and strong enemy that can’t be helped by the enemy”! To be honest, I don’t like the situation with the Kuril Islands. Not just there, far from easy. So for now we are joking and optimistic about the future.
                1. Catfish
                  Catfish 5 July 2020 17: 28
                  I am not optimistic. They were enemies, they remained enemies. Everything alien, and everyday life, and understanding of oneself as a person. Although the sun rises in the East, it’s impossible to see the gleam there.
  2. bar
    bar 4 July 2020 08: 03
    Always considered Japanese very strange brothers on reason.
    1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
      Kote Pan Kokhanka 4 July 2020 10: 56
      But well done! Weapons and armor of those eras have been saved !!! Now there is something to be proud of !!!
    2. Lynx2000
      Lynx2000 4 July 2020 11: 51
      Quote: bar
      Always considered Japanese very strange brothers on reason.

      Still would?! Given that they are children of a descendant (emperor) of the goddess Amateratsu, who descended to the earth.

      Insects in armor ... wink the author tactfully did not name them - the scourge of all armies: the louse (bether), pubic and Pediculus humanus capitis on the head, fleas and ticks (encephalitis, homeland - Japan).

      Considering the fact that the original offensive weapon of the samurai was their original bow, handcuffs (gaiters) on the left forearm protecting and the wrist were necessary.

      I can't resist (I love chain mail). It is believed that approximately in the 14th century, armor "Kusari" (chain mail) appeared, different from the Eurasian ones in the form of rings and weaving, sewn onto the fabric. By the type of connection of the rings, they were named accordingly:
      Futaye Kusari
      Hana Kusari.

      Since the 16th century, having familiarized themselves with the armor of Europeans, as the author pointed out to the "southern barbarians", noble and wealthy princes and samurai bought, received European armor (cuirasses, Morion helmets), adapted ...

      P.S. If I were in the place of a medieval samurai (God forbid), but the so-called "protective apron with an unprotected back, I would not wear it hidden under clothing to protect against a sudden attack. As a rule, surprise attacks occur from the back, at night or at dusk, which is more unpleasant - at night on a sleeping person, and sleeping with a basin on the belly, although armored, is extremely inconvenient. wink
      1. bar
        bar 4 July 2020 11: 57
        Insects in armor ... wink the author tactfully did not name them - the scourge of all armies

        I have read that lice do not live in silk, for which it was valued among the "southern barbarians". Although, probably, this does not apply to Japanese multi-layered uniforms.
        1. Lynx2000
          Lynx2000 4 July 2020 13: 08
          They live in silk underwear. If the cotton fabric is steamed, including over the fire is not afraid, the silk will be spoiled.
    3. Catfish
      Catfish 4 July 2020 20: 09
      More than, considering what the crews of their cruisers and submarines did with the prisoners. Remind me? Especially for those who are drawn to Japanese "culture". Here, after all, Adolf Echmann and the company are resting. Something I don’t remember the case when Himmler ate someone's warm liver on the deck.
      1. Lynx2000
        Lynx2000 5 July 2020 03: 33
        Quote: Sea Cat
        More than, considering what the crews of their cruisers and submarines did with the prisoners. Remind me? Especially for those who are drawn to Japanese "culture". Here, after all, Adolf Echmann and the company are resting. Something I don’t remember the case when Himmler ate someone's warm liver on the deck.

        This is already a question for military psychiatry.

        War manifests in a person both good qualities (courage, resourcefulness, fidelity, self-sacrifice, firmness), and negative ones (sadism, cowardice, betrayal, looting, etc.).

        Since after World War I in Japan they began to cultivate the "samurai spirit" among officers, taking into account the Japanese mentality "to serve and die for the good of the emperor and Japan", their attitude towards the occupied civilian population and prisoners of war is understandable. There are known facts of coverage in the Japanese media of the competition between two officers who will kill the civilians and prisoners of war more. They also considered eating a human liver as a manifestation of "samurai valor". Yes, from the standpoint of "Western morality" - this is savagery.
        However, "civilized Europeans" did not have anything to stop them from treating people as biomaterials for the production of soap, "lampshades", fertilizers, etc. Why is Himmler, if I am not mistaken, who was in charge of concentration camps better ?!
        The bullying of German soldiers over civilians, prisoners of war, is also documented.
        The Americans were no better, with the practice of cutting off ears and scalping.

        Now Remark not read?
        In addition, studying the culture of a foreign state is an element of intelligence.
  3. 3x3zsave
    3x3zsave 4 July 2020 10: 50
    Thank you, Vyacheslav Olegovich!
    I looked at the kutsu, the form of abumi unusual for Europeans became clear.
  4. Van 16
    Van 16 4 July 2020 13: 16
    Thank you!
    As a child, I read the book of Japanese fairy tales "Strawberries in the Snow", that year I bought a new edition, let the grandchildren also join))
    So the article on fertile ground is very interesting!
  5. saygon66
    saygon66 4 July 2020 17: 15
    - Oddly enough, the luxurious armor that protected the samurai could be the main cause of his death ...
    - Peasants, brutalized by many hardships brought by wars, ruthlessly looted on the battlefields, killing wounded and exhausted beads, attacking groups of laggards who were left behind ... Armor and weapons obtained in this way were sold in the markets ....
  6. Asad
    Asad 4 July 2020 19: 10
    Great article! The author is definitely a plus! In general, Japan as a parallel world.
  7. Free wind
    Free wind 5 July 2020 08: 36
    Koh, The Royal Tiger, in a very famous game. Shoelaces, rags, plates are somehow not very protection.
    1. Engineer
      Engineer 5 July 2020 11: 55
      Well, any lamellar plate on the laces. The Japanese have added shoelaces to make it stronger.
      Some pluses of the Japanese.
      Good skirt design
      Tire greaves appeared earlier than among Europeans.
      Some disadvantages
      O-soden- nonsense in terms of melee
  8. akunin
    akunin 6 July 2020 10: 16
    bow to the author - cognitively, involuntarily reconsider the attitude to Japanese weapons, armor and samurai.
  9. Smirnoff
    Smirnoff 21 July 2020 19: 52
    The cycle about Japan is wonderful. Thank.