Tatami (Japanese armour)

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Antique Edo period Japanese (samurai) karuta tatami dou (dō) gusoku. A lightweight portable folding (tatami) armour made from small square or rectangle armor plates called karuta. The karuta are usually connected to each other by chain armor kusari and sewn to a cloth backing, some karuta armour can be sewn directly to the cloth backing without any kusari, Met Museum New York.

Japanese tatami armour (畳胴具足), or tatami gusoku (Tatami, from Tatamu 畳む, "To fold") and gusoku (meaning armour),[1] was a type of lightweight portable folding Japanese armour worn during the feudal era of Japan by the samurai class and their foot soldiers (ashigaru). The Tatami dou (dō) (a folding type of chest armor) or the tatami katabira (an armoured jacket) were the main components of a full suit of tatami armour.[2]


A tatami gusoku (complete suit of folding armor) includes a tatami dou (dō) or tatami katabira (jacket) and a tatami kabuto (helmet) chochin kabuto,[3] or tatami zukin (hood) or similar type of tatami head protection along with the other related parts of a full suit of Japanese armour. Collapsible head protection such as hachi gane and other collapsible armor are also tatami armor;[4] a traditional kabuto could also be part of a tatami gusoku.

Tatami armour was lightweight, portable, convenient for transportation, and they were manufactured inexpensively and in great numbers for the ashigaru light infantry.[5] Tatami armours were worn by all samurai classes from the highest class to the lowest class. The higher class samurai wore elaborate tatami armour[6] while the lower class samurai and retainers wore a plain basic version.

In his book Arms and Armor of the Samurai: The History of Weaponry in Ancient Japan[7] Ian Bottomley shows a karuta tatami do and a karuta tatami kabuto (p. 88), and discusses different types of tatami dou (dō) karuta gane dou (dō) and kikko gane dou (dō) on p. 91. George Cameron Stone shows a kikko tatami armor on p. 606 of his book A glossary of the construction, decoration, and use of arms and armor.[8]

Types of Tatami armour[edit]

Karuta tatami armour[edit]

  • Karuta[9] are small lacquered square or rectangular iron (sometimes leather) plates usually connected together by kusari or chainmail and sewn to a cloth backing.[10]

Kikko tatami armour[edit]

  • Kikko are small iron or leather hexagon plates[11] usually connected together by kusari or chainmail, and sewn to a cloth backing.[12]

Kusari tatami armour[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]