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Trap doors in armor to dole out cash?

 
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 3:03 am    Post subject: Trap doors in armor to dole out cash? Reply with quote
Today the local Cincinnati newspaper printed an article in its 'Cool Collections' column that focused on Gary Grose, who has "10 complete sets of (Japanese) armor that date to 1590; 50-plus swords and pole arms date to the late 1300's; and 25 plus matchlock guns date to 1650. There are also Tansu (antique Japanese chests), Tetsubin (iron tea pots from the early to mid-19th century) and early Edo period Buddhist objects". Apparently he gets most of his stuff from Christie's and Southeby's (which we know have a bit of BS 'fluffing' in their descriptions at times), Chicago and Tampa sword shows, and flea markets. Only two black and white photos ran-a kabuto that looked like the real thing and a table with a few dozen tsuba on it. I was really surprised to find someone in my area with a collection that sounds pretty good sized.

He described his favorite piece, which had some stuff in it that sounded really strange. "It's a signed, dated (coat of armor) from 1595. I got it through a collector 22 years ago for $26,000 (now worth about $45,000). There's a trap door in the side-it's morbid, but they would reward people for taking heads and then would pay them off. This was so the wearer could get to his money and pay them. The armored part of the sleeves had two secret compartments that contained opium balls-it was like battlefield first aid".

The bit about a samurai needing to get to his money through his armor to pay someone on the spot sounds like total BS (although it does paint an amusing mental picture). This doesn't sound like the hinged sections some suits of J-armor have, rather a little door.

The bit about the opium sounds a bit more plausible-Ayame tells me opium was introduced to Japan in the mid-to-late Muromachi period and was used as a painkiller. Still, I've never heard of compartments built into armor to carry gear or medicine (like Batman's gauntlets or utility belt).

Since I'm no armor expert, however, I was hoping someone could shed a bit more light on this. Is any of this plausible, or is he a collector that got sold an exaggerated and enhanced bill of goods?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Can you scan the article by any chance? I could send it along to Trevor for an opinion.
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I found the article with Google
http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130119/NEWS/301190054/COOL-COLLECTIONS-Objects-showcase-love-Japan-its-history
Quote:
and 25-plus Japanese matchlock guns date to 1650.

Definitely fishy, everyone knows that the Tokugawa shogunate banned guns Just Kidding
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Do you mean this type of trap door? Some kote do have small containers built into the metal work on the fore arm, I can not remember specifically what was stored in them.

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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
estcrh wrote:
Do you mean this type of trap door? Some kote do have small containers built into the metal work on the fore arm, I can not remember specifically what was stored in them.


Clearly that's to "dole out cash"... Rolling Eyes
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
Clearly that's to "dole out cash"... Rolling Eyes


Sengoku period ATM?
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
estcrh wrote:
Do you mean this type of trap door? Some kote do have small containers built into the metal work on the fore arm, I can not remember specifically what was stored in them.


Thanks for the photos and info on the kote. That makes the 'opium ball' a bit more plausible, although knowing samurai it seems more likely they'd stick small throwing knives in there Wink .

Based on the description given in the article, it seems a safe assumption that what is shown in the photo is what the guy was talking about. I wasn't so much skeptical about it having a trap door, but rather it being used for access to money to pay off headhunters on the spot. Hard to see what kind of practical use such a 'trapdoor' might have, really, since it'd still be hard to get into the folds and especially sleeves of a robe worn beneath the armor.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:


Sengoku period ATM?


I wonder if anyone involved in this has any concept of Sengoku period money...how exactly are you supposed to "dole out" a long string of copper coins, or a bag of rice, out of a hole in the side of your armor? I don't get it at all.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Well, they'd be paying with those kewl Edo period ryo coins...

...oh, wait...


And not to mention that head taking tended to be bureaucratic and not immediate-you didn't pay just anyone with a head. There needed to be paperwork, a viewing ceremony, witnesses so rouge samurai couldn't just stroll onto the battlefield and take the head off a dead body, etc etc.

Still, I would like to know just what those side panels are for. Unless there really were robot samurai like in 'Samurai Seven'.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I think this is the first I've heard of the use of opium in Japan. Did they actually use opium?
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yep, introduced in the Muromachi. The Tokugawa Shogunate banned and unbanned it several times in the Edo period, sometimes outright, sometimes restricted to medical use (which worked about as well as the current medical marijuana farce).
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:

And not to mention that head taking tended to be bureaucratic and not immediate-you didn't pay just anyone with a head. There needed to be paperwork, a viewing ceremony, witnesses so rouge samurai couldn't just stroll onto the battlefield and take the head off a dead body, etc etc.

Still, I would like to know just what those side panels are for. Unless there really were robot samurai like in 'Samurai Seven'.


That's an excellent point as well--I mean, look at Takenaka Suenaga--he had to have an entire scroll commissioned to get credit for his AMAZING EXPLOITS against the Mongols. Laughing

As for what it could really be for, I'd like to get Tony and Trevor's opinions, but the only thing that makes sense to me might be access panel to cords, etc. underneath the do. Having worn body armor myself for work (granted, kevlar is a bit different), it makes no sense to me to store ANYTHING under the armor--you hang it from your belt, or put it in a container which you attach somehow. Especially where those panels are placed, underneath the arm pit, it's incredibly inconvenient to get to and open for the person wearing the armor. You wouldn't be putting anything in there to store and get out.

For those that can't picture it, try this: turn to your right, and reach over with both hands to the side of your torso, about 2 inches below your armpit. You can do it, but it's uncomfortable, right? Now imagine having to hold that position while untying/tying a cord, opening an opening, and rummaging through to pull something out. It doesn't make any sense at all. Now, FURTHER, imagine trying to turn when you've got a steel plate on your front and back, severely limiting your range of motion to the side like that. I would maintain that it's highly unlikely you could even turn and move your arms into position to access it, much less take 3-4 minutes to open it, get something, and close it. There's a reason why we hang stuff on the front of our body armor, on on the side down by the waist, but not under our armpits--arms don't bend that way.

It's much easier to rationalize that it's an access panel for an attendant or something to open and get to cords, while the wearer is holding his hands above his head. It still doesn't make a TON of sense, but that is, in fact, why this is a rare thing, n'est pas?
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I wonder how you would store coins or anything else for that matter inside the trap doors. Carrying pouches inside the armour perhaps? As ltdomer98 said, it would be inconvenient, fidgeting with the cords and getting stuff out seems awkward and you probably couldn't even see what you are doing. It could prevent things from getting lost or stolen, but there must be better ways to do that.

The idea that it could give ventilation while marching comes to my mind, but that doesn't seem vey practical either.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thunberg wrote:
I wonder how you would store coins or anything else for that matter inside the trap doors. Carrying pouches inside the armour perhaps? As ltdomer98 said, it would be inconvenient, fidgeting with the cords and getting stuff out seems awkward and you probably couldn't even see what you are doing. It could prevent things from getting lost or stolen, but there must be better ways to do that.


Not to mention that if you had a pouch containing hard substance wedged in between your armor and rib cage, what happens when you move? When you fall? When you get pushed up against something? It digs into your ribs and HURTS LIKE HELL. You don't want anything between your body and your armor. Anyone who believes that you would put something there hasn't spent more than 5 minutes with any form of armor on.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yeah but still.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here's an off the wall thought-what if these are ceremonial suits of armor donated to a temple or just on display in a castle or mansion? Religious relics like small statues or copies of sutras (copied out by a samurai who had taken the tonsure) could have been placed inside the armor, sitting on top of the armor chest. In the case of a 'castle' suit, some sort of family heirloom, account, or religious document. The doors could be there to provide easy access to these items without having to break down the armor stand. While it may seem far-fetched at first, temples did put documents, sutras, and small carvings inside large statues (where the 'head' would come off or there was some sort of door/sliding panel), so there's some basis for it.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
Here's an off the wall thought-what if these are ceremonial suits of armor donated to a temple or just on display in a castle or mansion? Religious relics like small statues or copies of sutras (copied out by a samurai who had taken the tonsure) could have been placed inside the armor, sitting on top of the armor chest. In the case of a 'castle' suit, some sort of family heirloom, account, or religious document. The doors could be there to provide easy access to these items without having to break down the armor stand. While it may seem far-fetched at first, temples did put documents, sutras, and small carvings inside large statues (where the 'head' would come off or there was some sort of door/sliding panel), so there's some basis for it.


As plausible as anything else I've seen or heard.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
About the containers for opium: I've never seen anything like that, but I do believe I've seen tekko compartments for writing implements, so I would assume this is something similar. How would you specifically know it was for opium, though, as opposed to any other medicine?

That side opening is definitely odd; I can't see it being used for strings of cash (why would you need to do that while you still had armor on--plus, how much of that was going on in 1595, given the conditions?

-Josh
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
In 1595 you would be getting paid for Korean and Chinese noses, and precious few of those since it was a lull in the fighting.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
In 1595 you would be getting paid for Korean and Chinese noses, and precious few of those since it was a lull in the fighting.


[Insensitive kimchi joke goes here]
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