Lamellar armour

Japanese Samurai Odoshi Armor.
Japanese Samurai Odoshi Armor.

Lamellar armour is a kind of personal armour consisting of small rectangular plates (lames) which are laced together in parallel rows. Lamellar armour evolved from scale armour. It is made from pieces of lacquered leather, iron, steel or horn held together with silk, leather, or cotton thread. When the lames are made up of leather one would often water harden it or impregnate it with wax in a process called cuir bouilli. Various materials have been used throughout the ages across many cultures, with different techniques of construction and designs of coverage. A common technique was approximately 30% animal fat mixed with 70% candle wax stirred until blended, applied with a brush and allowed to cool, afterwards excess was scraped off and readded to the next batch.

Lamellar was an armour that, when made out of materials such as leather, facillitated a high mobility for a comparably high level of protection. Lamellar was often worn as augmentation to existing armours, such as over a maille hauberk. The lamellar cuirass was especially popular with the Rus, the Scandinavian settlers of Russia, as it was simple to create and maintain.

Lamellar is pictured in many historical sources on Byzantine warriors, especially heavy cavalry. It is thought that it was worn to create a more deflective surface to the rider's armour, thus allowing blades to skim over, rather than strike and pierce.

Developed by the Assyrians circa 900600 BC, the style was used up through the 16th century. It is generally associated with the Japanese Samurai, although the armour came to Japan from contact with Tang Dynasty China. It is also associated with the steppe people of southern Russia and Mongolia.

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