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Ancient Chinese Paper Armor Was Tougher Than Steel


You’ve in all probability heard the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword,” however have you ever heard of paper armor being stronger than metallic protecting clothes? It goes towards every thing we’ve discovered about warfare; whereby burly warriors are often clad in metal or iron plate armor. But in response to historical Chinese data, utilizing paper armor was generally deemed the superior choice.

Papermaking originated in China 2,000 years in the past throughout the Eastern Han interval. The Chinese eunuch Cai Lun is credited with the invention, although examples of earlier, extra primitive, paper have been discovered. Paper was a game-changing invention, offering a extra sensible writing floor than bamboo, wooden or silk. In addition to its apparent makes use of, the Chinese even used it to make paper armor.

Historically, the Chinese have demonstrated a powerful potential to guard troopers with quite a lot of supplies, starting from turtle shell, bronze, stone, leather-based and finally metal, expertly crafted into small, sq., rectangular and fish scale-shaped items to supply optimum safety throughout warfare. What might come as a shock is the point out of silk and paper armor in historical Chinese data.

Sleeved paper armor (on the left) and cotton, paper and rattan helmets (on the right) as depicted in a Ming Dynasty military manual. (Public domain)

Sleeved paper armor (on the left) and cotton, paper and rattan helmets (on the appropriate) as depicted in a Ming Dynasty army guide. ( Public area )

In Hand Papermaking Magazine Peter Dekker famous that the earliest point out of paper armor is throughout the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD). It is claimed that Shang Suiding invented paper armor to assist civilians defend themselves throughout warfare. The governor of He-Dong is even reported to have outfitted a military of 1 thousand with fits of pleated paper armor.

According to Berthold Laufer , Tang interval paper armor was manufactured from folded paper sheets, whereas troops in An-hui Province, celebrated for its paper manufacture, are remembered for paper armor created out of triangular scales. The most detailed account of paper armor is contained within the 1621 Wubei Zhi or “Treatise on Military Preparedness” wherein naval commander Mao Yuanyi defined that for troopers within the south “the best choice for foot soldiers is paper armor, mixed with a variety of silk and cloth.”

Representational image to explain the way in which individual scales were sewn together to create paper armor. In the image a Qin dynasty Terracotta Army soldier wearing armor. (Camphora / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Representational picture to elucidate the best way wherein particular person scales have been sewn collectively to create paper armor. In the picture a Qin dynasty Terracotta Army soldier carrying armor. (Camphora / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Qing Dynasty descriptions favored Korean paper for its toughness, and US Consul Edward Bedlow remarked; “It seems ridiculous to call such combinations armor, and yet they make an armor superior in many instances to steel.”

The Discovery Channel’s MythBusters examined whether or not paper armor was as protecting as metal and located paper armor was simpler towards swords and arrows. Paper was probably folded and sewn into wads in cotton pouches to create particular person paper scales, earlier than being sewn right into a cotton backing, defined Scott Rodell . While efficient towards arrows and musket-balls, paper armor was not environment friendly towards rifle bullets. Light-weight and immune to rust, modern-day bulletproof armor relies on related ideas.

Top picture: Representational picture of Chines paper armor. Source: AI generated

By Cecilia Bogaard



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