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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Feb, 2007 7:59 am    Post subject: Chinese Paper Armour         Reply with quote

Hello all! Happy

I am interested in any additional information that anyone can provide regarding Chinese paper armour. In Brassey's Book of Body Armour by Robert Woosnam-Savage and Anthony Hall, the authors mention that the Chinese produced an armour made from 10-15 layers of mulberry paper. Apparently, in the 9th century AD a general equipped his 1,000 strong army with such armour. The text states that is was strong enough to stop an arrow. There is also mention of such armour used by the garrison of the Shen-Si province.

The book shows an illustration of a coat of paper armour that they claim is based upon one in the Wu pei chi of 1621 AD. It appears as if the paper were quilted like a gambeson, but otherwise it's hard to determine details from the image. It's hard to interpret how the garment was actually worn.

Does anyone have any information about or period images of paper armour? I assume that the layers were either quilted or glued together, and that mulberry paper is heavier than other types of paper. Are these assumptions accurate?

One reason I'm interested in paper armour is because of the fact that, when she was little, my daughter used to dress up her stuffed animals in paper armour when they went on wild adventures (a side-effect of having a dad that's obsessed with arms and armour I guess). Her "beanie" Eeyore was almost always in his little paper cuirass and helmet! I thought it was neat that paper armour was actually used in a certain place and time.

Any additional information anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Feb, 2007 12:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Technically it is "barkcloth" not paper. Paper is made from reconstituted wood pulp and is a modern technology. Bark cloth is made from bark that has been soaked and beaten. It has been used to make clothing for thousands of years. The Koreans called this type of armour jigap. Apparently it was also very good at protecting against the cold weather on the northern borders.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Feb, 2007 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Technically it is "barkcloth" not paper. Paper is made from reconstituted wood pulp and is a modern technology. Bark cloth is made from bark that has been soaked and beaten. It has been used to make clothing for thousands of years. The Koreans called this type of armour jigap. Apparently it was also very good at protecting against the cold weather on the northern borders.


Thanks, Dan! I was hoping you would come through with a bit more information. Now I can see what I find regarding "barkcloth" and "jigap". Since they made clothing out of the stuff, I assume that it was usually stitched in some fashion, suggesting that the layers of mulberry "barkcloth" were stitched in a similar fashion to a gambeson or jack made from multiple layers of linen. After all, linen is processed plant fibers, too (obviously made from a somewhat different process, but both come from plant sources, as does cotton).

Thanks again! Happy

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
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Sam T.





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PostPosted: Thu 15 Feb, 2007 9:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are no surviving evidences of such armor in China. So their construction can not be determined. Most modern historians think that it should be made out of large pieces of paper, each chunk built by many thin layers glued together. There were instances during the Song dynasty where tens of thousands were made for the garrison of a particular city.
I would imagine that it would be good to soak the armor so that it wouldn't light on fire that easily and provides better protection when wet.

Because aside from that there were cloth, cotton and wooden armor that were used in China. The cloth armor was also worn by civilians of the Ming dynasty as a fashion.
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Hanyou Kusinagai




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 9:41 am    Post subject: chinese paper armour.         Reply with quote

the concept of paper armor is very similar the steel scale mail. the construction of paper armor is relativity simple. depending on your tastes your armor can be attached to a linen under-piece, i use as much original material as possible, i use rice paper, the paper is folded until it is roughly five inches long by three inches wide buy 3/4 inches thick. you will need a lot of these, once you have a decent amount of them they are traditionally coated with a resin, i used a poly-thailine sealant, it serves the same purpose, the resin/sealant harden the paper and hold it in its shape. once you have them all coated use a knife to round one end and a hole punch to punch two holes in the top. you want to go to 3cm from the flat end of the tile, put a mark on the center 3cm down,put your finger on the mark and mark on either side of your finger you will punch the holes were you just marked. once again i prefer to use original materials as often as possible, however to save time and money, you can go the your local craft shop (hobby lobby, benfranklen, maybe even Walmart) and buy brown twine, you use the wine to sew the tiles to the linen under-robe. the tiles will be laid in rows side to side with the round end facing down. once you have the first row then lay the second. after the first two flat rows are laid the third row will be laid on top of the first and second over lapping both previous rows, continue this until you have the desired length and width,
Chinese rice paper armor
hope this helps you.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 1:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been looking off and on for at least a decade and can't find anything at all to support the "paper scale" type of construction. I'd love to see a primary source that describes its construction or a surviving example of this. The best I can determine is that the "paper scale" hypothesis is derived entirely from a misinterpretation of a sketchy drawing in Robinson's book (p. 144), but the wu pei chi book, from which the illustration was taken, suggests that it was constructed like a gambeson, not made of scales. I would bet good money that their "paper" armour was constructed just like their cloth armour - multiple layers quilted together. No glue. I also know for certain that it wasn't made of rice paper; it was bark cloth. The only rice paper armour I've ever read about is a variant of the Japanese jingasa helmet that was made of lacquered layers of rice paper.

Last edited by Dan Howard on Thu 28 Mar, 2013 1:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Hanyou Kusinagai




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 1:56 pm    Post subject: chinese paper armor         Reply with quote

http://mandarinmansion.com/articles/Chinese%20Paper%20Armour.pdf
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"The best choice for foot soldiers is paper armour, mixed with a variety of silk and cloth. If both paper and cloth are thin, even arrows can pierce them, not to say bullets; the armour should, therefore, be lined with cotton, one inch thick, fully pleated, at knee length."

I can't translate Mandarin but I'd bet that "quilted" would be a more accurate English word than "pleated". In any case it supports the multiple layers construction rather than the scale construction. It looks like it is constructed just like a medieval padded jack.

There is nothing here to suggest that rice paper was used. All we have is an inability to distinguish between paper and barkcloth, which still happens today.


Last edited by Dan Howard on Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

FWIW, Mythbusters did paper armor in one episode.

According to their tests the most resistant structure was just folded several times and stitched together, not glued. At least, that took the most pressure to penetrate. So yeah, quilted gambeson style construction sounds plausible.

The suit (constructed like scale armor) actually stood up really well to arrows, sword cuts and stabs, a spiked mace and even pistol balls... and soaked up water like a really, really heavy sponge. I guess lacquer would've been a good idea. Big Grin

It was starting to come apart toward the end but, to be fair, that was after hours of just getting wailed at. And then shot. In the rain.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings


Last edited by Mikko Kuusirati on Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Mythbusters armor had the same problems I just outlined. They used paper and not bark cloth and they made a stupid-looking scale construction instead of just making it like a layered jack or gambeson.
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure, but their results from testing the individual scales are interesting in that they actually support the unglued, quilted construction quite nicely.

Plus, they did show pretty conclusively that the concept is perfectly valid and works.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Hanyou Kusinagai




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:18 pm    Post subject: chinese paper armor         Reply with quote

i must apologize for my mistake it was not rice paper, but mulberry paper.
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Hanyou Kusinagai




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:48 pm    Post subject: chinese paper armor         Reply with quote

am presently working on a suit of paper armor once i am finished i will post pics
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 2:52 pm    Post subject: Re: chinese paper armor         Reply with quote

Hanyou Kusinagai wrote:
i must apologize for my mistake it was not rice paper, but mulberry paper.

The Chinese didn't make paper from mulberry. They made barkcloth from mulberry. The other common tree for making barkcloth was fig. It was used for exactly the same purposes as they used woven textiles. Barkcloth armour was made in exactly the same fashion as woven cloth armour. Barkcloth looks a little like paper but has completely different physical and mechanical properties. They are as different as felted wool and woven wool. If Mythbusters wanted to test the ability of this armour to resist weapons then they couldn't substitute paper - it had to be barkcloth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barkcloth
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapa_cloth
http://www.leadtochina.com/china-guide/folk-h...ority.html
http://www.justpacific.com/pacific/papers/barkcloth~paper.pdf
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 3:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From those links, "barkcloth" is woven cotton fibre. As for beaten bark cloth, there seems to be a variety, from bark beaten enough to be flexible, through to cross-ply laminated glued beaten barks. What is the difference between "felted" beaten bark and paper? Early Chinese papers would use bark and recycled hemp. Recycled cloth was common in papers until wood pulp became almost universal.

Basically, why isn't Chinese paper using mulberry bark "paper"? Historically, wood pulp hasn't been a necessary ingredient of paper, so why should this be different for Chinese paper?

Of course, it is necessary to recognise that modern wood-pulp paper isn't as strong as old-style bark/hemp/cotton paper, and might not be as good armour. Perhaps one should think of Chinese paper armour as non-wool "felt" armour?

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Mar, 2013 3:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
From those links, "barkcloth" is woven cotton fibre.

A lot of modern "barkcloth" is, yes. So is a lot of modern "linen".

Quote:
As for beaten bark cloth, there seems to be a variety, from bark beaten enough to be flexible, through to cross-ply laminated glued beaten barks. What is the difference between "felted" beaten bark and paper? Early Chinese papers would use bark and recycled hemp. Recycled cloth was common in papers until wood pulp became almost universal.

Basically, why isn't Chinese paper using mulberry bark "paper"? Historically, wood pulp hasn't been a necessary ingredient of paper, so why should this be different for Chinese paper?

I suppose it depends on how you define "paper". I like to stipulate that it was "barkcloth" so that people don't think that it was made the way we make modern paper. If you call it "paper" then people automatically assume that it was rice paper or something similar. If you say "barkcloth" then people are more likely to associate it with a cloth fabric.

Quote:
Of course, it is necessary to recognise that modern wood-pulp paper isn't as strong as old-style bark/hemp/cotton paper, and might not be as good armour. Perhaps one should think of Chinese paper armour as non-wool "felt" armour?

Sort of. Each layer might resemble a thin layer of felt but they were quilted together like woven cloth. Woollen felt armour was usually one single thick layer. Better to consider barkcloth to be just another type of textile. Anything that was made from regular woven cloth was also made from barkcloth. All the evidence suggests that paper/barkcloth armour was made in exactly the same way as other types of cloth armour. No glue. No scales.
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Xiao Zh





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Apr, 2013 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chinese used the paper armour at least after Song dynasty (960 AD)......

"纸甲,用无性极柔之纸,加工捶软,迭厚三寸,方寸四钉"
"paper armour, hammer the soft paper, superpose and glue to 3寸 thick, set four rivets per square寸"
1寸=0.1尺≈31mm

soI'm afraid that the paper armour looks like a EOD protective clothing...you can't wear it to go to close fighting. Song dynasty people used it only for shooting defense battle or naval warfare....
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Tue 02 Apr, 2013 5:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Xiao Zh wrote:
Chinese used the paper armour at least after Song dynasty (960 AD)......

"纸甲,用无性极柔之纸,加工捶软,迭厚三寸,方寸四钉"
"paper armour, hammer the soft paper, superpose and glue to 3寸 thick, set four rivets per square寸"
1寸=0.1尺≈31mm

soI'm afraid that the paper armour looks like a EOD protective clothing...you can't wear it to go to close fighting. Song dynasty people used it only for shooting defense battle or naval warfare....


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapa_cloth
Considering the Wiki description for the manufacture of Tapa cloth provided by Dan, this may only describe the mulberry paper or barkcloth being manufactured by beating, cross-layering with starch-glue, and then layered to the desired thickness of 3 measures. Instead of sewing the layers together, they could be fastened with rivets, rather like button tufting upholstery, 4 rivets per square measure. Effectively the same as the European jack of 10-20 layers of linen.


As an interesting local aside, the Chickasaw tribe from Mississippi were originally noted to wear white cloth made from the inner bark of the mulberry (morus rubra being native to the area).

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Apr, 2013 11:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:
Perhaps one should think of Chinese paper armour as non-wool "felt" armour?

Sort of. Each layer might resemble a thin layer of felt but they were quilted together like woven cloth. Woollen felt armour was usually one single thick layer.


Is this - the single thick layer part - known, or is it an assumption without evidence?

Given that the Chinese didn't make paper armour in a single thick layer, perhaps there is some advantage in multiple layers. Perhaps an advantage for wool felt armour to be multi-layered as well.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Apr, 2013 1:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Is this - the single thick layer part - known, or is it an assumption without evidence?

Good question. I think it might be an assumption or an unsuported statement that I read somewhere. Do we have extant examples of medieval felt armour?
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