To touch the past

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Oct 9, 2003
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Today an old cardboard box that once held oranges arrived. I had paid 100$ for this box and I was very happy to see it.
Inside the box was a tiny, rusty, moth-eaten, peeling, battered old suit of armor from somebody's attic, I presume.

This armor is called "tatami-do." That means "folding armor" and it is not like the samurai armor you see in museums. This was the armor of a real soldier, a poor man, a man who did not get to sit and think in the rear when the arrows started raining down.

This cheap suit of armor was worn by a man who had to actually fight on the field of battle. I dont know how old it is, maybe 200 years or more.
The Japanese really dont care much for these armors; the only ones of value to collectors are the pretty ones made for rich samurai, the "Oyoroi".

The guys who really did all the fighting, the ashigaru, their armor was cheap and only covered their belly, shins, forearms and head. I honor this poor little suit of iron plates linked together. I am going to study it closely and copy it, if I can. I will take care of it and try to make it useful to us.

The tatami-do is not a solid armor, like you might imagine, but a chessboard of small square plates
(0.7 mm thick) linked together with chain mail and sewn to a fabric undercloth. It was light and flexible and cheap, but the protection was minimal.

If a ninja had armor, this was probably what he wore. Was this a ninja's armor 300 years ago? I have no idea, but it sure is now!

The khukuri strikes me in a similar way. In owning it, in touching it, I get to travel back in time and feel the same feelings that some very great people felt.
 
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Aug 18, 2005
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HM! sounds a lot like the brigandine from Europe;basically a two-layer leather vest with small square steel plates sewn or rivited between,common armor for the common man.
 

Fiddleback

Knifemaker
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Oct 19, 2005
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Danny, I was in Tandy Leather the other day. I found one right near my work that wasn't listed. Go figure. Anyway I've been spending time on my lunch break there. Anyway, between the lady showing me little tricks I like to go into the leather room and check stuff out. I'm really intrigued by the heavy armour/shield leather. I think it would be a fun project to make a shield, or some light armour. Not that it would be like yours at all, just interesting. Can you post pics of this stuff?
 
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I said I,d like to see that armor so I too could see what you see . Then I realised we all have our way of interpeting what we see . I liked what you said and it did give me a perspective I tend not to share . I come upon antiquties from time to time and appreciate the craftmanship or artistry only as something lost . If I want to delve further it is usually due to my desire to bring the lost values or skills into my present life . I do enjoy the lifestyle of times past . It is always with the eyes of a modern man . Thank you for giving me a small glimpse from the view of a warrior long dead who will now live in the respect you show for the life he led and what he wore into battle .
 
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Dec 4, 2005
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Yeah I wanna see too. Is it anything like what is pictured in some of Hatsumi Sensei's books? If that warrior who owned that armor was as tough as Toshitsugu Takamatsu he wouldn't need armor!
 
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Aug 17, 2003
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ashigaru:

Ashigaru.jpg


you have touched his soul
and he is remembered
he is happy in his rest
as are we for knowing
 
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Aug 18, 2005
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One thing I've always noticed,Japanese have got some colorful armor! :D and yes I wanna see the one Danny got too!
 
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Feb 7, 2005
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Good score DiJ! First look gave me goosebumps:eek:

Do the metal plates have a leather cover, or is that rust?
Does it "chink" when shaken? ....Stealth armor:cool: :cool:
 
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Nov 25, 2005
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Hi Danny:

What a terrific find. I bet you will treasure such an old item used by a warrior.

Thanks, Steve
 
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Jul 17, 2005
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Wow. Is it possible to post a picture the sleeves? I bought one sleeve in auction for 45 pounds sterling. It has a shoulder cup, a sleeve of embroidered material and a guard that goes over the back of the hand. Those parts look like resined papier mache. It is barely big enough to fit me, but I can.
 
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Oct 9, 2003
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The plates are iron, lacquered brown, linked together with chain mail and sewn onto a black hemp cloth backing. No, it doesnt make any noise...
 
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Aug 18, 2005
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Hey Danny do they use much leather? I know Mongols used it but not so sure about Chinese or Japanese,a hemp backing ain't gonna be much good against a sword-thick leather would.
 
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Jun 24, 2004
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You can buy something like that for $100 in Japan? Are you allowed to export them? You can score an armor for $100 for me any day, Danny--I'd make it worth your while! :)
 
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Danny, my great grandfather was the Color Sergeant for the Fourth Virginia Cavalry during the American War Between the States (American Civil War), serving under JEB Stuart and under Stonewall Jackson. When the regiment surrendered in 1865, he refused to surrender the Regimental Standard, the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, and carried it off of the surrender field rolled up and tucked under his tunic. It spent the next several decades sewn up inside of a pillow to hide it as it was illegal for a Cofederate Veteran to have such a thing, a flag of insurrection. Now, 141 years later, I have it in a bank vault, but I occasionally take it out and show it to people. Whenever I do so, I feel that I am reaching out and taking my great grandfather's hand.
 
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there is a rusty old breast and back plate listed at 10$ right now.
I expect it will end up a little higher, but maybe not too much.
Ill bid on it just to see if I can get it for less than 100$
 
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