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Samurai Armor and Its Elements 

Referencing Styles : Harvard | Pages : 1

Scholars agreed with the fact that Samurai armor had first appeared in the 4th century along with the discovery of the cuirass and the basic primary helmets within the graves. It is estimated to have established from China via Korea. During the period of the Heian period, the Japanese cuirass had undergone evolution into a far more familiar style of body armor worn by a samurai commonly known as the dou or do It made the use of leather straps and lacquer for weatherproofing. Leather or iron scales were also implemented to construct samurai armors, initially with leather and eventually with silk lace which were used to connect the individual scales of these cuirasses. In the period of 16th century, Japan began with the trading of this with Europe, during the time which began to be known as the Nanban period. Samurai acquired the European types of armor, which were then modified and then combined with the domestic armor as a reason that it would provide a better protection against the newly introduced matchlock muskets. When a united Japan had entered into the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued with the use of both the plates and lamellar armor as a symbol to showcase their status. Hidden armors having the features of being lightweight, portable and secret hidden armors had become popular since the personal protection which was still needed against the unrest within the civil condition.

The Japanese armor was in general constructed from many of the small iron or leather scales or plates which were connected to each other by the use of rivets and macramé cords which were again made from the leather or braided silk or chain armor. Noble families had made silk cords carrying specific patterns and silk threads of different colors. Many of these cords which were constructed well had over 100 strands of silk. Making all these special silk cords used to consume months of steady work, just to have completed a single armor. The Japanese armor was specially designed to be as much lightweight as possible keeping in mind the fact that a samurai has a series of tasks to perform which also included horse riding and archery along with an addition of swordsmanship. The armor usually was brightly lacquered to provide protection against the harsh Japanese climate. Chain armor was also implemented in the construction of individual armor pieces and also full suits of kusari were even used.  A full suit of the traditional samurai armor could have included the following terms:

  • Dou is the chest armor made up of iron or leather plates of varying sizes and shapes with pendants attached to it.
  • Kusazuri- was made from leather or iron plates hanging from the forward and the backward end of the Dou.
  • Sode- forms the shoulder protection in the form of a large rectangle.
  • Kote- which forms the armored glove.
  • Kabuto- which is the helmet made from iron or leather plates.
  • Mengu- form the lacquered facial protection.
  • Haidate- forms the thigh guards which were tied around the waist.
  • Suneate- guards of the shin made from splints made of iron.

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