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Liang Tuang Nah




Location: South East Asia
Joined: 23 Feb 2010

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PostPosted: Tue 09 Mar, 2010 5:37 pm    Post subject: Silk to Stop Arrows         Reply with quote

I've read somewhere that the mongols wore silk under their armor to enable easier removal of arrows from flesh if penetration through armor occurred. However, it also occurred to me that since silk is one of the strongest natural fibres available, ENOUGH layers of silk could effectively stop an arrow.

With this in mind, how many layers of silk would an undervest need in order to turn an arrow? If we assume that boiled leather 4mm thick is worn over the silk, would a 10 layer thick quilted silk gambeson type garment would stop an arrow shot from a 40lb drawweight bow at 15 yards?

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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Mar, 2010 6:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depends of how it was quilted. Look at modern kendo armour. it is made of quilted layers of cloth. The closer the rows of stitching, the stiffer and more resistant the result. Silk has a higher tensile strength than other fibres so you should get a similar level of protection with slightly less layers. Modern Thai police use layered silk for ballistic vests. Apparently they can stop a 9mm. The local availability of silk means that they are cheaper than imported kevlar. Don't bother with hardened leather; you'd get better protection with a few more layers of quilted cloth and it would weigh less.
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Stuart Thompson




Location: Walton-on-the-Naze
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PostPosted: Wed 10 Mar, 2010 12:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I saw an experiment once where a man in samuri armor had a silk (one layer) cape..when he rode fast it billowed out like a sail and two archrs fired at it..the arrows either didnt go in, or went in but then lost all momentum..not hitting the body.

Seemed a very effective piece of kit and the way it billowed made it very hard to see the chap on the horse also. So silk can indeed stop an arrow.
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Philip Montgomery




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Mar, 2010 10:26 am    Post subject: Re: Silk to Stop Arrows         Reply with quote

Liang Tuang Nah wrote:
I've read somewhere that the mongols wore silk under their armor to enable easier removal of arrows from flesh if penetration through armor occurred. However, it also occurred to me that since silk is one of the strongest natural fibres available, ENOUGH layers of silk could effectively stop an arrow.

With this in mind, how many layers of silk would an undervest need in order to turn an arrow? If we assume that boiled leather 4mm thick is worn over the silk, would a 10 layer thick quilted silk gambeson type garment would stop an arrow shot from a 40lb drawweight bow at 15 yards?


Interesting you should mention this. I saw an exhibit last year in Houston Museum of Natural Science about the Mongols, which was sponsored by the People's Republic of China. I think that exhibit made some inaccurate claims about archery, but I need to do more research.

I remember the comments about the silk. It sounded like something someone would say who had never studied the effects of arrow wounds. The exhibit also made claims about the superiority of the Mongol bows that were slightly misleading in my humble opinion.

If you saw the same exhibit I did, it was a very rah! rah!, pro-Mongol message and a not so subtle pro-Chinese history. I would like to have seen more scientific analysis of those Mongol bows. I know from the historical records that they were powerful, but they were not the be-all and end-all of archery as the exhibit claimed.

After reading Robert Hardy's book on the English war bow, I have my doubts about the claims of the Chinese exhibit. And I suspect most war bows would be stronger than 40 pound draw.

I am curious to hear what others think. Good topic, thanks for bringing it up.

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Mar, 2010 12:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The various 2nd and 3rd hand mentions of Mongol silk armour are so similar that there must be very few primary sources. I wouldn't be surprised if there is only one (in English). Does anybody know this source?

It seems that the Ur-source notes that the skin would still be penetrated, and the silk driven into the flesh, but the silk would not be pierced. Different secondary sources then extol the virtues of this: barbed heads can be easily extracted, the risk of infection is greatly reduced, poisoned arrowheads won't poison you. For the last, note the frequent appearance of poisoned arrows in traditional story/history - Genghis, for example (IIRC), being hit in the neck by one, and his loyal companion(s) such out the poison.

If this is accurate, it would be a thin shirt, not a very stiff garment. According to most secondary sources, worn under armour. I recall reading that they also used silk armour on its own.

As noted by others, it will work. A 40lb bow shooting through 4mm boiled leather is probably a poor test, since Mongol war bows were much more powerful than this. Also expect rawhide lamellae, not leather.
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Steven H




Location: Boston
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PostPosted: Wed 10 Mar, 2010 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

I have no difficulty whatsoever believing that silk could stop an arrow. That is because of the copious European texitle armour that stops arrows, without silk. Layers of linen or even a linen shell with tow, horsehair, or batting inside will stop arrows.

There is one part about this legend that I don't believe. The part about the arrow puncturing the rider without the silk breaking. It's simply too easy to make layered textile armour that is highly arrow resistant. The Mongol wouldn't be puncutred by the arrow. The arrow would just be stopped.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Liang Tuang Nah




Location: South East Asia
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 12:52 am    Post subject: Any recommendations?         Reply with quote

If one wanted to get a 10 layer of silk thick fencing vest or gambeson made, can you guys recommend me someone who would be prepared to make this custom garment?
The cartridge box, soap box and ballot box.....the first supports your right to use the second which in turn safeguards the right to be assured the third every few years.
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 1:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dr. George Emery Goodfellow used 18-30 layers to stop arrows (so says Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_vest).

Also a newspaper article from 1902 on bullet-proof silk armour: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Three_Grades_of_Fabric.
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R Lister




Location: Hamwic
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is the original question about penitrateing injuries?

If shot with an arrow or musket ball the projectile would also drive a small amount any material that the unfortunate victim was wearing into the wound.

If I recall, linen or wool, being more fiberous, comes apart more easyly when dammaged and wet. As it would be in a wound.

Now fishing about in a wound with a pair of foreceps is messy enaugh now with modern anastetics. In previous times fishing about in a wound looking for a projectile and any debris when the patient is flapping about like a freshly landed fish is dificult. if the debris stays in once piece its easyer to remove.

So post op infection due to foregin bodies in the wound site is reduced when you can remove them. surivial rates go up.


Now silk is expensive, so only thoes who had means could afford it.

So if you were rich and shot the expensive silk shirt you had would not only be more comfortable, but also decrease post wound infections due to the fabric being easyer to remove.


Rich
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Mongols had (multi-layer) textile armor, including of silk. It was fairly common throughout Asia. They also did use leather or animal hide but for once I agree with Dan the textile armor is probably more effective and less bulky.


Some Asian textile armor I quickly googled:




http://treasure.chinese.cn/en/article/2009-08..._13888.htm





Silk armor lining from Han Dynasty

http://www.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/html/en...e4106.html


J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

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Rod Walker




Location: NSW, Australia.
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting.

I was stabbed in the thigh back in 1999 whilst doing a 17thC duel for a display. The sword I was stabbed with was bluntish and it penetrated about an inch and a half pushing my breeches material into the wound. My breeches are a wool outer but a silk/cotton liner . The wool was peirced by the point but the liner wasn't. When the sword was withdrawn the material stayed in the wound and I just pulled it out leaving a nice clean wound.

Cheers

Rod
Jouster
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"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 3:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:

Some Asian textile armor I quickly googled:


Msot of these pieces are either brigandines (and may well be for parade/court rather than combat) or parade/court "armours" imitating brigandine. All of the ones you show are cut like the usual Qing brigandine. The imitation ones have imitating the attachment of brigandine plates, but with no plates. Sometimes it's a little hard to tell from a photo which it is, especially since some of the imitation armours have some plates (plates on some pieces, like the shoulders, but not on others, like the skirts).

The top one is interesting, since the arms have clearly visible rivet heads, and the skirt has external lamellae, but I can't see rivet heads on the jacket. The jacket is still cut brigandine-style, complete with armpit-protectors, so perhaps the outer layer covers the rivet heads? The helmet and drape looks rather more modern than the rest, so I'd ignore the lack of rivets on this.

Anyway, I wouldn't call them textile armours, any more than silver-painted knitten movie-mail is textile armour.

Stone has an example of Korean textile armour, but it's padding with cloth outer and inner (coarse cotton, iirc). A similar armour can be seen in colour at http://webprojects.prm.ox.ac.uk/arms-and-armo...884.31.33/.
It's built differently, and is worn as the only body armour rather than as additional under-armour, so it might be a misleadingly poor model for Mongol layered silk armour.

I will look over the weekend and see if I can find pictures of Chinese textile armours - these would be late, mostly 19th century. Again, probably quite unlike Mongol silk armour.
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 7:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rod Walker wrote:
I was stabbed in the thigh back in 1999 whilst doing a 17thC duel for a display. The sword I was stabbed with was bluntish and it penetrated about an inch and a half pushing my breeches material into the wound. My breeches are a wool outer but a silk/cotton liner . The wool was peirced by the point but the liner wasn't. When the sword was withdrawn the material stayed in the wound and I just pulled it out leaving a nice clean wound.

I'm a strong supporter of experimental archeology, but your dedication to answering the "silk question" clearly places you at the front of the pack! Wink

In all seriousness, did the doctor (I'm assuming you went to the hospital) comment on the level of cleanliness in the wound? Do you have any idea what the silk/cotton ratio was of your liner?

Liang, in his OP, wrote:
I've read somewhere that the mongols wore silk under their armor to enable easier removal of arrows from flesh if penetration through armor occurred.


Rod may have inadvertently lent some credence to this back in '99!

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 8:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Hrouda wrote:
[
In all seriousness, did the doctor (I'm assuming you went to the hospital) comment on the level of cleanliness in the wound? Do you have any idea what the silk/cotton ratio was of your liner?


Doctor ! Naw, probably just poured some rubbing alcohol in the wound just for the fun of it or put a red hot poker on the wound to stop the bleeding and cauterize it ...... may have done both with the rubbing alcohol giving a nice blue flame. Razz Laughing Out Loud


O.K. seriously, did you go see a doctor Rod. Big Grin Cool

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Rod Walker




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I went and had a look at the breeches I was wearing back then and they are not the ones with the silk lining, they have a calico lining. I can tell which breeches are which as the ones I got stabbed through have the hole in the wool sewn up.

Either way, the wool was pierced but the liner wasn't.

I did go to the hospital but I sat there for 2 hours and still hadn't seen a doctor so I signed myself out and drove the 3 hours home and saw a doctor at my local hospital. He did comment on how clean the wound was. He was expecting to find cloth, dirt etc in there. Took 6 stitches to close it up.

Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Mar, 2010 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rod Walker wrote:


I did go to the hospital but I sat there for 2 hours and still hadn't seen a doctor so I signed myself out


In Quebec right now the average wait times in the emergency room is around 15 hours if you walk in.
If you are brought in by ambulance triage " may " get you looked at right away if it looks real bad.

Last week there was a story about an old woman who was forgotten in a corner of the emergency room and died before she was seen by a doctor as her triage priority was too low.

Sorry sort of off Topic but " socialized medicine " has it's down sides ! Oh, the medical personnel does their best they can but there seems to be 10 healthcare bureaucrats, for every nurse or doctor, vacuuming up the health care budgets.

Well run and lean a public system has it's plus sides also, but over decades the system has become overmanaged and underfunded in spite of very high taxes !

Getting back on Topic: I assume that no veins or arteries where damaged and the main issue was avoiding infection and speed healing by closing the wound with stitches ? How bad was the " OUCH " factor at the time of the wounding and a few hours later ...... morbid curiosity maybe. Wink

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Mar, 2010 2:11 am    Post subject: More on later Chinese textile armour         Reply with quote

More on Chinese textile armour:

From Ian Heath, "Armies if the nineteenth century: Asia 2: China", Foundry, 1998:

"On the whole, 19th century Chinese armour consisted of a silk-stuffedm quilted fabric corselet up to 2 ins, or about 5 cm, thick (usually made of cotton, silk for officers),"

Heath continues to describe it as studded, basically a padded imitation Chinese brigandine. According to Heath, called "ting chia" (often "ting kia" in other sources), or "armour with nails", i.e., studded armour. This was very rare by 1840, at least in battle, although armour of this appearance continued in use as court wear. Some of these armours still had plates on the breast, and could be bullet-proof.

I haven't seen any pictures of ting kia that suggest thicknesses close to 2 inches; they all look much thinner to me. Since it's essentially out of military use by the time dealt with by Heath, I wonder whether this is confusing this type of armour with the next-mentioned type, below.

Heath: "Ordinary soldiers were sometimes provided with simple quilted fabric jackets called p'ang-ao mien-chia, meaning 'fat' or 'padded armour'." Basically, a short jacket padded with cotton or silk floss. The silk versions could give good protection against modern firearms (c. 1850-5).

Heavy Chinese winter clothes could also offer significant protection.

From Robinson, "Oriental armour", paper armour was in use in south China during the Ming dynasty. 10-15 layers of paper, ideally Korean, sewn together. Supposedly musket-proof and arrow-proof.
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David Eason




Location: Taiwan
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2010 3:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would have thought that layered armour would work best.

I have heard that silk or felt gambesons were often worn over chainmail, as the silk trapped arrows (and made them bulkier), thus allowing the chain to be more effective rather than having all the force of the arrow concentrated on one link.

And yet, while strong against penetration, silk is vulnerable to being cut, and therefore wouldn't be the best outer armour.

Is there any historical evidence of people wearing layers of different types of armour?
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Delphine Mike





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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2015 1:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here quilted mean the fabric used in to make quilt covers?
Shop Quilt Covers Online in Australia http://www.elanlinen.com.au/quilt-covers
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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2015 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Quilting is the process of sewing of two or more layers of material together to make a thicker padded material, usually to create a quilt or quilted garments. "
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