The Chinese army used paper for armour for several reasons. One of the main reasons has to do with the Chinese culture: paper has been used in China for centuries and its symbolic meaning has long been associated with protection, honor and courage. Because paper was so closely tied to Chinese culture, it was often used to protect the soldiers. Chinese legend even holds that paper provided magical protection.
Paper armour was also used by the Chinese army because of its practicality. Paper was cheap and easy to acquire—especially in comparison to metal armour which was expensive and hard to find. Moreover, paper armour provided better protection than metal armour in many respects. Paper armour was waterproof and more comfortable to wear. Additionally, it was lightweight, which meant that soldiers could move more quickly and fight more effectively with it on.
Most notably, paper armour was effective at dissipating energy from attacks. While leather armour could only block physical blows, paper armour was capable of absorbing the energy of arrows and blades. This meant that it was harder for the Chinese soldiers to be injured or killed by enemy weapons.
The use of paper armour demonstrates a unique combination of practicality, tradition and ingenuity found in Chinese warfare. After all, metal armour was a symbol of power and privilege. But by substituting metal with paper, Chinese soldiers were able to defend themselves against enemy attacks and carve out a place on the battlefield.
Chinese Paper Armour in Different Wars
Paper armour was used multiple times throughout Chinese history. During the Warring States Period (476–221 BCE), the Chinese army used paper armour in an attempt to protect their troops from enemy forces. In 1040 CE, during the Song Dynasty, soldiers again utilized paper armour to defend against the onslaught of Mongol forces. In the late 1800s, during the First Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese army made use of paper armour to protect troops against the modern weapons of their adversaries.
Even today, some traditional martial arts schools continue to use paper armour to protect their practitioners from low-powered weapons. Thus, the use of paper armour is a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness of the Chinese army and their determination to survive even under the harshest and most difficult of circumstances.
Making Chinese Paper Armour
Creating paper armour was an intensive and complicated process. First, fishermen would harvest mulberry bark and dry it out. Next, the bark would be boiled, beaten and stretched to create a paper-like material. This material was then hammered and molded into armour, often with extra layers of cloth added for reinforcement.
The end result was a lightweight and effective form of armour. It not only provided protection against enemies’ weapons, but it was also able to absorb and dissipate energy from attacks. In addition, the paper armour created a barrier that was both waterproof and breathable.
Inspiration from Animals
Interestingly, historians believe that the Chinese gained inspiration for their paper armour from the natural world. Many animals, such as turtles and crabs, use shells as protection from predators. Similarly, Chinese soldiers began to use paper as an effective form of armour.
The turtle is especially significant in this respect. In Chinese culture, the turtle is seen as a symbol of long life and strength. And by using paper armour, Chinese soldiers were able to protect themselves against enemy attacks much the same way that turtles protect themselves with their shells.
Limitations of Chinese Paper Armour
Despite its effectiveness, Chinese paper armour had many limitations. Most notably, paper armour could not provide protection from guns, cannons and other forms of modern weaponry. In addition, paper armour was not very durable and it could only be used for a limited number of battles before it needed to be replaced.
Paper armour also proved to be ineffective against arrows and spears. The long projectile weapons were able to penetrate the paper materials, making the armour less effective. Additionally, the water-soluble paper armour became stiff and brittle when wet, leaving the wearer vulnerable to attack.
Propaganda and Paper Armour
Chinese paper armour also had significant psychological implications. By equipping their soldiers with paper armour, the Chinese government was able to show its people that it valued its soldiers and was determined to protect them. This helped to inspire loyalty and commitment among the Chinese people.
The paper armour also helped to elevate the perception of the Chinese soldier. It demonstrated that the Chinese army was not dependent on foreign weapons and could use its own ingenuity to protect their country. Because of the strong connection between paper and Chinese culture, this propagated the idea that the Chinese army was both honourable and courageous.
Chinese Innovation and Paper Armour
The use of paper for armour has been a testament to the ingenuity of the Chinese army. By using a local and affordable resource, the Chinese military was able to equip its troops with an effective form of protection — one that provided many advantages over traditional metal armour. The use of paper has been not only a testament to the Chinese cultural values, but also to the Chinese military’s willingness to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances.
Moreover, the use of paper armour illustrates the resourceful tactics and strategies employed by the Chinese army. Even when lacking access to costly materials and equipment, the Chinese army was still able to protect their soldiers and prevail in war.
Significance of Chinese Paper Armour
The use of paper for armour may have been few and far between in Chinese history, but it has had a significant impact. Not only did it provide effective protection for Chinese soldiers, but it also helped to elevate the perception of the Chinese army in the eyes of its people. And perhaps most importantly, it showcased the capability of the Chinese army to innovate and create in the face of impossible odds.
The story of paper armour is a testament to one of the most important aspects of Chinese warfare: innovation. By using a local and affordable resource, the Chinese army was able to show its ingenuity and create an effective form of protection against enemy forces. In this way, the use of paper for armour demonstrates the true resourcefulness and creativity of the Chinese army.
The Legacy of Chinese Paper Armour
Today, the legacy of paper armour still lives on in Chinese culture. Many Chinese martial arts schools still use paper armour to protecten their practitioners. Additionally, paper armour is still used as a symbol of honor and courage. And its use as a form of protection has been memorialized in Chinese storytelling.
Overall, Chinese paper armour was an innovative and resourceful way of protecting Chinese soldiers in a variety of conflicts. By utilizing a cheap and plentiful resource, Chinese soldiers were equipped with an effective form of defence that was both practical and symbolic. The use of paper armour has been a testament to the ingenuity of the Chinese army and a reminder that sometimes the most effective solutions are those that come from within.