As long as I don’t get killed

One of those things that you hear a lot about, particularly in the geek world, is weapons and armour, and it’s a subject that fascinates historians and archaeologists as well, even the ones who pretend to be too grown-up for it. I tend to think that everyone, from the derpiest History Channel person to the best-informed ARMA sword geek, tends to overestimate human pragmatism, and I suspect that actual fights were sufficiently chaotic and scary that the technical merits of one weapon against another were not as important on an individual basis as who slipped in the mud and got stepped on by a horse or whatever.

But not wanting to die is a powerful human motivator, even if not everything humans do as a response to it actually makes them less likely to die. And it can lead to some powerful ingenuity, as witness this armour created by Russia’s Chukchi people.

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That’s all hide, furs, hell, even wood and whalebone. And apparently it’s not too bad against arrows. That giant wing on the back looks like it would be pretty inconvenient, though.

I guess if you’re a nomadic tundra hunter, you make do with what you got. In some other cases, though, it’s clear that someone paid good money to look like a complete dingdong on the battlefield (or at home, whatever). Consider:

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“Just imagine. They’re holding onto their pikes … hearing the thunder of hooves … they look up and see … a concerned twit with a moustache. They won’t know what hit ’em!”

Some suits of armour are more for coolness than practicality. This one is described as a bear-hunting suit, which sounds like horseshit to me. I’d love to see someone trying to make their way through the woods in this thing, without peripheral vision or anything … they’d end up stuck to a tree. Others have suggested it’s for bear-baiting, so now it’s not funny, it’s just an indictment of our species’s meaningless cruelty. Oh well.

Bear-hunting-suit-02

 

It is scary-looking, though. If I saw that dude coming I’d run a mile.

Some types of body armour look very natural to us, somehow: Roman legionaries, knights … I think it is to do with what you’re likely to have owned a plastic figurine of as a child. But some tops of body armour just look crazy and outlandish. Actual WWI armour always looks to me like it’s from some horrible muddy sci-fi dystopia.

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I’m right, right? Those look like something from some crazy music video that stoner kids who thought they were profound would try to tell you about in high school or, alternatively, from a nightmare I had.

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This thing is as creepy as the thing it’s supposed to protect you from — red hot hunks of metal flying around the inside of a tank after it gets hit — is horrifying.

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Actually, this guy just looks like a baller.

You can see more weird-ass WWI armour here.

Why does everything from WWI always look horrible? I ask in all seriousness. Sherman tanks look kind of goofy and loveable; WWI tanks look like butchering tools. It’s nothing to do with their actual purpose; you’d rather be shot by neither. It’s just the feel somehow. Is it because of our associations when we think of WWI, or is it the other way around? Can Paul Fussell tell me?

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As long as I don’t get killed

4 thoughts on “As long as I don’t get killed

  1. Damien says:

    Oooh! Something I can help with! Okay, you see the seams running vertically across the “wing” in the color photograph? They really are seams, or joints — it’s flexible, so it curves around the body (like you see in the black-and-white photograph). The model just has its arms in a weird position. Apparently, the idea was that since you need both hands to use a bow, you strapped this curving shield-type-thing to your back instead, and when the enemy lets off a volley of their own arrows, you just about-face and scrunch your head down.

    PS: ❤ the blog.

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