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Kote (籠手) of the late Heian and late Kamakura period

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Kote (籠手) of the late Heian and late Kamakura period 



A famous pair of kote of the early 14th century wrongly attributed to Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Despite the late age of the example, this type of kote was the main style of arm armor of the 11th and 13th century. Sadly, this is the oldest type of kote we have.



In this article I would start to explore the various types of arms defenses employed by the Japanese warriors from the late Heian to the late Kamakura period.
To add a little bit of ramblings before getting to the topic, I was thinking for month before writings about limbs armors on how to tie the variations of different styles and their historical evolution, so I decided to talk about these armor pieces within different time periods.

So here we will talk about the armor used to protect arms & hands from the 10th to the late 13th century. This might seems a long period, and indeed different styles of arm armors were used throughout the different wars of the Heain and Kamakura p…

Wantō (湾刀): Early Curved Japanese Swords

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Wantō (湾刀): Early Curved Japanese Swords


A classic example of a curved warabitet
ō, the most common style.

If you have ever tried to approach the study of Japanese swords, you might have encountered the incredible amount of different theories and the huge (and occasionally hostile) nomenclature that pervade such field. In order to make things clear and at the same time pay omage to this long tradition, today I'm going to talk about the Wantō (湾刀), the first curved Japanese swords.
This specific name is an umbrella term used to refer to every Japanese curved swords, although in this s artilce I'm going to present the very first types of said family, namely the warabitetō (蕨手刀)which differs from the usual curved Japanese sword of the later periods and all the variations that sprung from this so iconic and yet forgotten Japanese swords.

As a premise I would love to point out that this is definitely not my area of expertise, and it tooks several month to get the puzzle more or less co…

Manchira (満智羅) - Japanese Auxiliary Armor

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Manchira (満智羅) - Japanese Auxiliary Armor

A section taken by the 島原の乱図屏風 showing a warrior wearing a manchira.
Today I want to talk with a brief article of one of the most important, and yet overlooked, Japanese armor piece found on late Japanese armor usually referred as tōsei gusoku (当世具足).
The manchira (which can also be written 満智羅, 満散,満乳羅 or 摩牟知羅), also known as manjūwa (饅頭輪), mantōwa (満頭輪) or kataōi (肩被) is essentially an armored vest that was used either as a standalone armor or as a form of chest protector to be worn under or over the main breastplate, the dō ().


A sketch made by me showing cuirass plus manchira configuration.
For those who are familiar with European armor, this item functioned both as a form of arming doublets with integrated voiders or as a form of "mail" shirt.
As I've written in my detailed analysis of tōsei gusoku (当世具足) armor, this piece of equipment was actually used to cover the gaps that might be left uncovered by the main solid and rigid arm…