Armour

Japanese armour might serve as a text for those authors who love to descant on the unchanging character of the East. Our own Middle Ages witnessed revolutions in the style of armour as complete as any that have taken place in the Paris fashions during the last three hundred years. In Japan, on the contrary, from the beginning of true feudalism in the twelfth century down to its extinction in 1871, there was scarcely any change. The older specimens are rather the better, rather the more complete; the newer are often rather heavier, owing to the use of a greater number of plates and scales; that is all. It is true that in quite old times Japanese armour was still imperfect. Cloth and the hides of animals seem to have been the materials then employed. But metal armour had already established itself in general use by the eighth century of our era. The weapons, too, then known were the same as a millennium later, with the exception of fire-arms, which began to creep in during the sixteenth century in the wake of intercourse with the early Portuguese adventurers. Those who are interested in the subject, either theoretically or as purchasers of suits of armour brought to them by curio-vendors, will find a full description in the second part of Conder's History of Japanese Costume, printed in Vol. IX. Part III. of the "Asiatic Transactions." They can there read to their hearts' content about corselets, taces, greaves, mamelières, brassarts, and many other deep matters not known to the vulgar.