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Mounted Warrior from Dura Europos.
Mounted Warrior from Dura Europos
Reconstruction based on a somewhat abstract third-century "graphito" at Dura Europos. Here, per one accepted interpretation, I have shown the girdle as Maile and Plates construction. A common alternative interpretation is that the plates of the girdle are lamellar worn over a maile shirt.
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Maile and Plates

A photograph of armour containing Maile and Plates components.

Somewhere in Central Asia, an armour developed which interspersed plates with Maile in an attempt to maximise the characteristics of the two materials. It is not known when this armour was first used. In illustrations it is absent (but for one exception noted below) until the later 14th century. Then, early in the 15th it begins to displace other styles until, late in that century, a profusion of Maile and Plates styles practicly replaces every other armour in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
Because of this, many historians place its origin in the late 14th century. The Metropolitan Museum, however, in its display notes, makes reference to a 14th century traveler's journal which describes armour of this type in widespread use in Central Asia. If reliable, this would put the origin date of this armour in, at least, the early to mid 14th century. Further, notes from Arab travelers describe what may be Maile and Plates armour in use by the Khazar heavy cavalry as early as the 10th century. Far earlier than that, a rough drawing found at Dura-Europos, dated to the 3rd century, has also been interpreted as depicting a Maile and Plates armour. This interpretation is illustrated here (if it is accurate, this armour is very similar to armour worn in Sind, as further described below).
Whatever the origin date, this armour remained quite popular in most of the East for as long as armour was worn. Napoleon's armies were rousted by Cossacks wearing this armour in the early nineteenth century and English imperialists fought against Indian warriors who were armed in Maile and Plates later in that same century.
Because of its temporal and geographic profusion many distinct styles of Maile and Plates armour can be identified. These are treated separately below.


Kolontar Kolontar
This is a Russian Maile and Plates armour consisting of a separate breast and back which are attached by thongs or buckles at the shoulders and under the arms. There are no overlapping plates, rather, each plate is independently attached by maile.
In its most complete form, the front has a central row of horizontal rectanglular plates running from neck to waist. This is suplemented by a row of square plates at each side, which runs from under the arm to the waist. These squares are lined up with the central rectangles and are of the same length as the shorter side of the rectangles. A row of half sized square plates is also used at each shoulder.
Less complete forms were also commonly used. The half sized squares were the most likely to be omitted. On other armours, only the central row of rectangles was used. In still another variation, the rectangles were split so that there were two central rows of squares (with or without side rows).
Commonly, the back is simply of maile, though sometimes, square plates of the size used at the lower front seem to have been used. These ran from underarm level to waist (as at the front), in rows, from one side of the back to the other.
I have seen some reference to armour of this type used in places other than Russia. As with all Eastern armours, some may have had a central "mirror" type disc. This is probably one of the earliest types of Maile and Plates.

Click here to view a sketch of several
Kolontar patterns


Tatami Do

Tatami Do
Developed under the influences already described under "Armour of Bands" (in relation to the Japanese "Loose Lacings" armour), at aproximately the same time as "Loose Lacings", the Japanese Maile and Plates armour may have developed independantly of other Maile and Plates Armours. More likely, however, it was an adaptation of an early Maile and Plates worn by the Mongols during the invasion, probably quite similar to the Kolontar.
Apart from the lighteness and durability as compared to Lamellar, this armour was valued for its compactness. For this characteristic, the Maile and Plates was called Tatami Do, which means, essentially "Folding Armour".
The Tatami Do is constructed of aproximately similar rectanglular or hexagonal plates, without overlap. It is made in the same style as other Japanese armour (a cuirass with integral skirting in separate sections) with simple, half-eliptical, pauldrons.
This armour was commonly mass-produced for low level soldiers. Recently, however, armours of this type have been discovered which were clearly used on horseback (the skirting being modified at the back for this purpose), and thus were the armour of Samurai.


Maile and Plates from Sind. "Sind" Maile and Plates
The major defining characteristics that make the Maile and Plates of this region of India a separate style of armour are it's vertical, non-overlapping rectangles and the "scale-shaped" - scaloped, small overlapping plates. These "scales" often alternate between those of yellow and those of white metal.
A complete armour consists of a waist-length coat - either pullover or fastened in the front, pants, shoes, a soft helmet, and a pair of solid Bazubands.
The vertical rectangles allways appear on the front of the armour in a girdle pattern. Additional plates may be at the back and chest. On the pants, the most likely plates to appear are those on the lower leg. The rest of the armour may be completed with maile only or with the scales described.
The illustration is based on a very complete armour of this type in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
It is interesting to note that, if the drawing from Dura Europos illustrates an armour of Maile and Plates (as shown at the begining of this chapter), the "Sind" pattern is the one closest to it. This may contradict the view of H. Russel Robinson (one of the foremost authorities on the subject) that Maile, and hence Maile and Plates, did not arrive in India until a very late date (with the Muslim invasion of the Moghuls) and developed into indigenous forms far later than that.


Korean Maile and Lamellar.

Korean Maile and Lamellar
Apart from its use of sections of lamellar instead of metal plates, the general look of this armour is similar to the Kolontar. That is to say, independant sections of lamellar are connected to each other by segments of Maile.
The lamellar plates are, of necessity somewhat different from the standard type. They are long and narrow with ten holes. The holes at the upper and lower center fasten to the Maile, while the other eight are two sets of four, laced with thong to hold one plate to the next. The edge plates have more holes on the side adjacent to the Maile in order to properly attach to that Maile. As most Korean armour, this is constructed as a front opening, knee length coat with full or half sleeves. The segments of lamellar and Maile cover the torso (either front only, or front and back). The skirts and sleeves are of Maile.
This armour seems to have generally been worn by the higher ranks. It was worn underneath a Brigandine (or false brigandine) or a Scale garment.

Yushman
Yushman
Yushman "Yushman" is the Russian name, probably of Turkish origin, for a type of Maile and Plates armour common throughout the East. A non-Russian name which I have seen used is Korazin. However, Korazin seems to be applicable to other forms of Maile and Plates (including the "Bakhteretz" types below and the armours I have classified as "Disc Armour") and is therefore not descriptive enough. "Yushman" is a far more specific term.
The Yushman consists of rows of plates which overlap vertically but are attached horizontally by segments of Maile. There are seven or nine such rows of overlapping plates on the torso. The armour is generally a knee length coat with half or full sleeves. The skirts and sleeves are of Maile or some combination of Maile and Plates.
The most common back design of a Yushman.

Click here to view a sketch of several
Yushman patterns


Back of a 'Maile and Plates Chahar-Ai-Ne'.
Front of a 'Maile and Plates Chahar-Ai-Ne'.

"Chahar-Ai-Ne" of Maile and Plates
This is an Indian armour which may be considered either a special case of Chahar-Ai-Ne, or a special case of the Yushman.
As the illustrations show, it is superficially similar to the Yushman. However, the front sections are two rows made up of one main plate each (as opposed to the regular case, where there are several plates in each row). Similarly, the side rows consist of one plate.
The back of this armour varies. On some armours, it is similar to that of the Yushman (as illustrated there). Other armours have a single large plate at the back (as illustrated here). Thus, with generally five large main plates, this armour is very similar to one common type of Chahar-Ai-Ne -- varying from it only in that this one is attached with maile rather than with straps or hinges.
The armours illustrated have extra reinforcing plates at front and back as does an armour photographed in Stone's "Glossary". The pattern at the back of five overlapping rows of small plates is a very common back reinforcement in Indian armour (often appearing on the "Sind" armour described above).

Bakhteretz Bakhteretz Bakhteretz

As with the Yushman, "Bakhteretz" is the Russian name for an international type of Maile and Plates armour. As mentioned in the "Yushman" article, the non-Russian name commonly used is Korazin, a term used for so many different armours as to be useless. "Bakhteretz" is here the more specific term.
As the Yushman, the Bakhteretz consists of rows of plates which overlap vertically but are attached horizontally by segments of Maile. However, while the Yushman's plates vary in size and differ in pattern from front to back, on the Bakhteretz the plates are essentially the same. These are small plates, normally 2 to 4 centimeters high and up to aproximately 12 centimeters wide.
There are enough rows of overlapping plates on the torso to leave only the amount of maile necessary to link them. Usually, this is three of four rows at the front, the same number at the back, and two at each side.
Bakhteretz In what is probably an early version of this armour, which I have seen only in Russian use, the plates form a "girdle" with only the front rising above the level of the armpit. The rest of the torso is filled with Maile.This version of the Bakhteretz is generally a knee length coat with half or full sleeves. The skirts and sleeves are of Maile or some combination of Maile and Plates. This armour is illustrated at the right.
More commonly, the rows of plates cover the whole torso, with sometimes the addition of Maile sleeves. There are also some Bakhteretz armours with an integral central disk at the front and back, echoing the design of Disc Armour.
Bakhteretz armours sometimes are complete at the top, but often are suspended from shoulder straps. They fasten at the front, side, or as a breast and back.

A photograph of armour containing Maile and Plates components.


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Articles and Illustrations by Norman J. Finkelshteyn.
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