Front view of a Zertsalo with octagonal discs.
Zetsalo (front)
Octagonal discs, overlapping plates held by internal leathers. 16 guage mild steel.
Manufactured by the author.
Rear view of a Zertsalo with octagonal discs.
Zetsalo (back)
Octagonal discs, overlapping plates held by internal leathers. 16 guage mild steel.
Manufactured by the author.

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Disc Armour

Under this title I have included three distinguishable styles of armour. Two of them are closely related. The third seems to have been an adaptation of the style to a pre-existing local design.
The first two are the Russian and Turkish styles derogatively branded "Pot Lids" by Westerners who first saw them. Some Western armour historians refer to them as "Krug" armour, "Krug" being the Russian word for circle.
While these terms do not differentiate between the two styles, the Russian armour is clearly different from the Turkish. The Russians refer to their armour as "Zertzalo", this is how I will refer to it. For ease of reference, I will use the term "Krug" to refer to both armours. The Turks seem to have simply refered to this armour as Korazin -- a general term applicable to all types of Maile and Plates armour, however, to distinguish this armour I will refer to it as "Turkish Krug".
The third style is an armour from India. It is one subtype of the Chihal'Ta Hazar Masha (discussed at length at Cloth Armour ). As described below, it has strong similarities to the other two types of "Disc Armour", thus, for ease of reference, I will simply refer to it as "Indian Disc".
Chihal'Ta Hazar Masha with discs.
Chihal'Ta Hazar Masha
More basic version

As the name implies, the central feature of the armours under discussion is the Disc. Specifically, two large discs are used, one at the front of the torso, the other at the back. The descent of these from the "Mirrors" is immediately evident, and it is attested to by the Russian name "Zertzalo", the archaic Russian word for Mirror.

The Indian armour is a cuirass consisting of front and back sections of padded cloth or leather. The metal plates are sewn to the backing and do not overlap - but rather, purposefully leave some gap. A layer of velvet is generally sewn onto the outside. This covers the backing fabric and the seams where the plates are sewn. It does not cover the plates. As mentioned elsewhere, this cloth is usually decorated with a pattern of rivets.
The Discs are set so that the bottom of the disc is slightly above waist level. Another plate is set above the disc, roughly the width of the chest. One plate is also set to either side of the disc. These last, when the cuirass is worn, join under the arm to protect the sides of the body. The front and back are identical in design.
Turkish Krug Armour.
Turkish Disk Armour
As are other Chihal'Ta Hazar Masha, this cuirass is worn with leaf shaped pauldrons and a four sectioned skirting of matching fabric. The skirting is generally attached permanently to the cuirass. The pauldrons and skirting often, but not always, have a large plate or an arangement of plates set in the center. Sometimes, the plates are omitted, leaving the pauldrons and skirting simply decorated with patterns formed of large rivet heads.

The Krug armours are also formed as a cuirass with front and back sections. They do not possess an integral skirting but are generally worn over a Hauberk. The pauldrons are a pair of simple, single plates only covering the shoulder.
Generally, the front and back are almost identical, except that the pauldrons are attached to the back, and there is some difference of detail (described below). I have, however, seen one Turkish armour which possessed two sets of pauldrons, one attached to the front, the other to the back. Conversely, some armours have an identical front and back, where the upper plate (see below) is smaller than usual. In this last case, a separate "gorget" may be worn which is similar to the standard back plate and pauldron arrangement (see section on Collars).
The metal plates are commonly attached to each other by Maile, without any overlapping of plates. However, it is also common for the Zertzalo to be attached by internal leathers instead. On these armours, the plates overlap. I have not seen Turkish Krug attached by internal leathers. I, however, have no evidence or positive knowledge to say that they were never made thus.
Russian Zertsalo.
Russian Disk Armour (Zertsalo)

All of the Turkish Krug which I have seen have round "discs". The Zertzalo, on the other hand, split rather evenly between those with round and those with octagonal "discs".
The front of the Turkish Krug is formed of a disc, with its bottom at waist level. Either a single plate, or less frequently, a number of overlapping plates, the whole narrowing at the bottom and widening at the top, are set above the disc. Two triangles supplement this near the underarms. There is a single, large plate at either side of the disc. These join when the armour is worn to protect the sides of the body.
The back is virtually the same, except for the upper portion. Instead of a narrow plate as in front, a wide rectangular plate covers the upper back and the shoulders. Often this plate is shaped to include a collar. It looks roughly similar to a late Western "Gorget". Triangles, similar to those in front, often, though not always, supplement this. As mentioned above, plates are attached to either side of the upper back plate to protect the shoulders. These shoulder plates are dished, shaped approximately as half ellipses or rounded triangles. The "cut-off" or "flat" side is attached to the back plate, the round side, or "point" of the triangle, is on the outside of the shoulder.
The Zertzalo is similar to the Turkish Krug, differing mainly in the use of a larger number of smaller plates. Thus, the smaller disc does not reach to the waist, an extra horizontal row of five plates fills the space between the disc and the waist. To each side of the disc there are two plates, rather than the one on the Turkish Krug. The upper part of the armour, however, is virtually identical to the Turkish.

If the plates are attached by internal leathers, the overlap basically radiates from the center outward. Thus, the disc overlaps all adjacent plates. The plate immediately to the side of the disc overlaps the one further away. The side plates and disc overlap the bottom row and, on the bottom row, the central plate overlaps those to each side, while those to the side of the center plate overlap the outer ones. The shoulder plates overlap the back plate. Finally, the underarm triangles are overlapped by the other plates adjacent to them.
The photographs at the top show the front and back of a Zertsalo armour with an octagonal disk. It has overlapping plates attached by internal leathers and includes a gorget and pauldrons.

Having developed probably towards the end of the fifteenth century, Krug armour achieved primacy in Russia and Turkey in the sixteenth century. In some regions it remained in use until the late nineteenth century.
I do not have definite information on the origin of the Indian Disc armour. As a group, the Chihal'Ta Hazar Masha armours are thought to be developments of the earliest Indian armour. Some are made of thick hide and omit any plate reinforcements, these are believed to be the early form with the plates being a development from foreign (Steepe Nomad) models. The Disc subtype was, however, certainly in use in the seventeenth and eighteenth century and may have continued in use into the nineteenth.


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