Ō-yoroi - Clan Identification

Clan Identification

The color, design, and material of the lacing identified the clan of the warrior. The clans were also identified by the designs painted on the armor. Many of the clans used symbols as a crest, such as cherry blossoms or depictions of deities. The color and design of lacing the plates together, odoshi, was a system used for identification on the field. There were many different color combinations that identified warriors from a distance.

The design and coloring of the lacing also indicated rank. Higher-ranking officials had the plates of their armor laced together tightly, while lower ranking samurai had armor that was laced more loosely. The loosely laced armor was adopted for all ranks of samurai over time to decrease the weight, allow more flexibility, and help ventilate the armor. The loosely laced armor allowed air to flow, keeping the samurai comfortable in hot and cool weather.

The loose lacing also allowed the armor to be cleaned and dried out, preventing the armor from rotting. It also reduced the weight of the armor by reducing the amount of water and ice retained on the lacing since it would be dried by the air flow. Once the loose lacing was adopted by all ranks, the lacing of the neck protector was then used to indicate rank.

The pattern and number of pairs in the lacing specifically indicated the rank of the wearer. Many of the remaining examples of the ō-yoroi have been re-laced to maintain the original form of the armor. However, some of the remaining ō-yoroi contain sections of the original lacing which impart valuable knowledge of the clan association.

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