Monday, November 29, 2010
The Work of Jay Moffat Pt 6
Here are some images of Jay Moffat's Samurai Warrior, circa 1180 and here in his own words is his description.
The armour is the early O Yoroi ( or Great Armour) style, and was meant to be worn on horseback by mounted archers. The mounted archers were the elite of the samurai in the same way that mounted knights were the elite in Europe. A highly developed skill, the samurai would gallop towards the enemy, fire arrows, then wheel away to regroup and charge again.
The armour was constructed by lacing together a series of overlapping scales (or sane) made of mostly horsehide leather but with some metal plates included over the vital organs. The scales were bound together in rows using flat silk braid, then fastened together vertically to form the plates of the armour. It is this coloured silk braid that gives the armour it's distinctive look. However, unlike European knights, who wore a coat of arms to identify their allegiance to a particular family, the colours on Samurai armour do not represent any particular family or clan. Once the scale plates were finished, they were attached to metal plates at the top of the breast, back and shoulders. These plates were covered by a strip of wood covered with decorative leather, called the kesho no ita or cosmetic plate.
The upper arms were protected by large, flat plates of scales called o sode, or large sleeves. The o sode acted similar to a shield, sliding off the arms when raised to shoot, then falling behind the shoulders. They were held in place with a complex system of cords tied in such a way that they stayed in place yet allowed sufficient freedom to draw the bow or wield the sword.
The helmet bowl (or hachi) was made of overlapping plates. Attached to this was a neck guard (shikoro) of five rows of tapered scales reaching almost to the shoulders and giving the helmet it's deep conical shape. These scales were attached by split rivets, supposedly so the neck guard would tear free if grabbed by an opponent. The four upper rows of scales were extended and bent sharply outwards at right angles, forming the fukigaeshi, the distinctive "wings" found on almost all Samurai helmets. Their purpose was to protect the wearer from arrows shot at short range, the "wings" protecting the face as they turned away from the enemy after firing their arrows.
Under the armour, samurai wore the traditional kimono, tied together at the lower legs. The shin guards did not come into use until the late 12th century. The weapon was the fabled Samurai sword.
The O Yoroi style of armour was very successful for its time. However, as the nature of battle changed, it's shortcomings began to become apparent. First, it was heavy - not so much a consideration when on horseback, but a different story when fighting on foot, as was often the case later in history. It was also extremely hot, and the silk lacing became good homes for lice and fleas. Gradually, the samurai moved to wearing lighter, simpler armour.
The figure is from Andrea miniatures, and is 90mm in height. The figure is basically box stock except for the cords on the back, which were made from wire and tassle ends made from Milliput. The armour is painted to resemble a set worn by a legendary Japanese feudal lord from the period, an illustration of which is included in the Osprey Elite book on the Samurai. The blue and white decorative motif on the chest plate and shoulders is decorative Japanese paper. I found the design on the web, printed it on paper and glued it to the figure.