Open Book Video Review of Colour and pattern of the Japanese YOROI Armour

Discussion in 'Reviews , Video Reviews and Open Book' started by yellowcat, Nov 15, 2019.

  1. yellowcat A Fixture

    Hi Everyone,

    Here is my book review of a 118 years old woodblock print book on the colour and pattern of the Japanese yoroi.
    The colour, pattern design and material of the lacing identified the clan and indicated the rank of the warrior. The colour and pattern design of lacing the plates together, odoshi was a system used for identification on the battlefield. There are many colour combination that identified the warriors from a distance.

    Title: Colour and pattern of the Japanese YOROI Armour woodblock print book.
    2 volume set 118 years old.
    故実叢書尚古鎧色一覧 Kojitsu sosho Shoko gaishoku ichiran

    Author: Honma Hyakuri

    Editor: Kawasaki Chitora

    Printer: Matsui

    Date: Meiji 34 (1901)

    Article reference on Sode armour plate:




    If you have problem with the video link, please click on the YouTube on lower right corner and set the settings to HD to view or click on the following video link:

    Please click on vimeo and then four corner arrows icon to full screen format
    Oda, Gary_81, NeilW and 2 others like this.
  2. Landrotten Highlander Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. Just a question of someone who wants to know- thesee colours, where they the colour of the armour plates, or of theropes that held the individual plates together. I am asking as some of them seem particularly busy (e.g. book 2 the first couple of pages with the flowers)
  3. fogie A Fixture

    Seen only tiny slices of these prints before. So thought this would be a bit of a treat. Regrettably the thing won't play for me... perhaps
    my computer is having 'a bit of a turn' or something. I'll try again in a bit.

  4. fogie A Fixture


    The 'colours' are those of the silk lacing that held individual plates of laquered iron or ox hide together. Colours were strictly
    governed by a bewildering set of conventions and superstition, and require a bit of research.... a sight of this book is invaluable.

  5. Landrotten Highlander Well-Known Member

    Hi Mike (@fogie)
    Thanks for the explanation. And I agree with your assessment re the book.
  6. Ronaldo Well-Known Member

    Wont play for me either
  7. Kimmo Well-Known Member

    For those having a problem with playback, click on the title in the video (not the play arrow) and it will open on YouTube. Some videos have a disable on other sites option so that the content creators don't lose out on views and/or ad revenue. Also, an interesting bit of info, had no idea about any of this.

    housecarl likes this.
  8. fogie A Fixture

    Well done that man... a 'techno-idiot' like me needs all the help he can get....thanks. (By the way, traditional Japanese colours were not
    only restricted by many archaic rules, but were actually defined differently to those of the West - 'Green' for example was until relatively
    recently classified as a sort of 'Blue'. So these book(s) really are no end helpful and Felix has really served us well here).

  9. NeilW Well-Known Member

    Great and interesting posting (y)

    I've been into (well, not literally) Japanese armour since I was about 15* when I first saw some at the Tower of London (now in Leeds I think?).

    Felix and others have posted great reference material on all things Japanese arms etc, eg :

    In addition, I've always found antique dealers sites invaluable, especially as they often show close up details, views from all angles and individual items.

    And (believe it or not), there are two UK based Japanese armour restorers whose sites again offer much.


    Between them, the sites show the enormous range of styles available (albeit most of the more ornate are 17-19th cenrury Edo period parade armours).

    *that's a lot of years ;)

    ** I had many more but lost them all a month or so ago due to a cataclysmic IT failure :(

    One of these days I'll finish my 1/12th scale scratchbuild mounted bod... started c 1968 :cry:
    Mainly DAS clay plus a few bits of plastic, fabrics, wood, my Mum's hair and, once upon a time, a metal katana and a yari with blades forged out of nails... all now in need of lots of TLC. It stalled when I attempted to do 1/12th scale laced plates:eek:

    Sam1.JPG Sam2.JPG

    (I know the rear harness is totally wrong, it should be a sort of figure 8)
    Martin64 and Nap like this.
  10. yellowcat A Fixture

    Hi Everyone,

    Since there is problem with the YouTube link, I have added another video link and updated my thread.


    Oda and NeilW like this.
  11. karlw New Member

    excellent contribution, much appreciated !
  12. Gary_81 Active Member

    A great resource for painting Samurai, thanks for posting it :).

  13. NeilW Well-Known Member

    I've never been sure whether some of these multi-colour, complex lacing patterns were actually used in practice (most suits seem to be single colour or fairly basic patterns... what might help is a translation of the pages' text?).

    Either way, I've just come across both volumes here:

    Armourer, David Thatcher gives some insights into the silk braiding (odoshi-ito) here:

    Other links under 'Home' on his site cover metal, leather and lacquer:

    This is a good primer:

    I used to have a link (now lost) which covered making a yoroi armour which went into great detail about lacing etc (eg small wedges of paper where the braid enters each hole to form the perfect ^^^^^^^^^^ shapes)... it's quite an art in itself.

    Out of interest, these two X-rays show how the individual laminate scales (kozane) fitted together. The first shows a mixture of leather and metal (probably where less protection was required) and the second all metal. The profusion of holes shows just how complex the lacing was. Scales were first laced and lacquered horizontally into solid strips, similar to European armour's lames; these were then laced vertically to form the larger pieces (later armours, especially during the great wars were made of solid metal lames and only had the vertical lacing).

    X-Ray1.JPG X-Ray2.JPG X-Ray3.JPG

    This shows how Japanese armour works via a well known C18th print:

  14. NeilW Well-Known Member

    If you want to see some of the complexity of construction and artistry of Japanese armours, have a look at some of David Thatcher's restoration projects:

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