I wanted to ask some questions about the nature of the Kote, the armor pieces used for protecting the arms.
I was looking for references about fully enclosed "plates" for the upper and lower arms; as far as I am aware, the warriors protected the inside of the arm with mail (a feature called uchimawashi both in Kozan and Sasama), most of the time in the Kaushi kusari pattern (mail in a squared pattern, like the one inside the elbow).
I've also seen full mail instead of Kaushi kusari.
Did they ever used plates instead of mail?
In the tsutsu kote style I've seen that the plates actually enclosed almost entirely the forearm except for a section of fabric on the inside. Are there any survival which fully enclosed the arm, like european rerebrace?
Then moving toward the upper arm, most of the defense is composed mainly by ikada or bigger plates, most of the time also covered by the sode. Did plates in the tsutsu style enclosed the upper arm in a similar way of the fore arm?
Final question, why kote without armor on the inside of the arm were used? Is there any advantage? Is an easy place to exploit in a fight in my opinion
Luca, If they ever did use kote with the inside protected by plate I have never seen any. It is also interesting that they never made armours from European gifts of armour that used the vambraces or leg harness. There is a complete Dutch armour in the Royal Armouries collection given to Tokugawa Iemitsu which has obviously been made to his size, but whether he ever wore it - who knows. Ian B
Uwe, Yes I think you are right. To turn your arm when wearing a vambrace you have to bent your arm at the elbow to get enough leverage to cause the turner-joint in the upper cannon to rotate. I have a German armour of c.1560 with what is known as an almain collar - lames over the shoulder and about halfway down the upper arm. When you try and raise your arms you can only get them about level with our shoulders. It was obviously sufficient for the purpose intended so it wasn't designed to allow any more. Ian B
One example is one of the screens Dave photograpathed in Tottori at the Watanabe collection, where again a pattern of mail and ikada was used near the zone of the fore arm's plate in the Yoshitsune-gote style. (For reference, is the main picture in Dave's facebook group of restoring and custom building).
I believe that a similar picture of mail&Ikada pattern in the fore arm is inside Ian's book Arms&Armors at page 47. I'm fully aware how Edo periods art is somewhat inaccurate when it comes to armor, so I was wondering if any of you ever seen something like this, especially for Yoshitsune gote.
For European limbs armors,I think that the Japanese didn't like their functionality. At the end of the day, some sort of tsutsu kote and tsutsu suneate were basically identical to European greaves and vambrace; even the sode if attached to the kote itself, were similar to pauldrons.
The main difference is in my opinion in poleyns, cuisses, rerebrace and couter. I can see the extra pounds and mass being a problem when fighting in Japan: mountains, a lot of mud due to rainy season and hot summers, not to mention that the interlocking plates might get locked by dirt or mud. Overheathing might be a problem as well, and we have to consider that Kote and Haidate are much quicker to put on or to remove when needed. Gauntlets too might be a problem when reloading and firing Teppo.
As an interesting note, Bashford Dean in the late 19th century found those legs and arms harness broken and used to make Tobaco-bon. He also stated that those pieces were too cumbersome. So I guess Uwe is correct here.
I am still wondering why han-gote (in the sense of kote without inside armor like the uchimawashi) were used; maybe some sort of mail or kikko was hidden behind the inner clothes, like ubu-gote. Who knows