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Banded mail is a type of medieval armor and a common item of equipment in many Fantasy Role-Playing games.

This armor is a natural progression of both chain mail and splint mail. Banded mail starts with a suit of chain and leather. Overlapping strips of metal are affixed horizontally over the torso. This provides the same superior protection as splint mail, while being far more flexible. This armor is a precursor to the heavier plate armors, but the inevitable gaps between the bands makes the overall protection poorer than that of the plate armor, especially against piercing attacks that can simply slide right through the bands.

This armor was used most frequently in the eastern world, where it retained popularity long after the western world had adopted plate mail. There are several types of Japanese armor that are all technically banded mail.

Banded mail distributes its weight much more evenly across the body than chain mail, making it possible to wear it for much longer periods than chain, even though it weighs a good deal more. One drawback however is that banded mail quickly self destructs with frequent use. The bands literally tear each other apart from rubbing together. This armor is also highly rust prone, although that has no effects on its protective qualities.

Banded Maille is a fake term created by curators of the British Museum. Anyone who has made, worn, or been around maille for extended periods has noticed that when one crumples the maille, small tubes are made out of the rows of rings. They theorized that some armorers would put long strips of leather through these tubes, thus making the maille thicker, and probably stronger.

However, recently some experts with the Historical Armed Combat Association (now called the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts ) have altered suits of maille in this way to play devil's advocate for the curators. However there were problems, as predicted:

1.)Since you have to crumple the maille to put the strips in, this decreases the surface area of the maille by half.

2.)Doing so also doubles the weight since one would have to make twice the maille for the same surface area.

3.)For all the added negatives, little is improved. It did make the maille structurally tougher, but had the same degree of weakness to piercing attacks, which was what did normal maille in.

Resources:

thehaca.org

Spikeofsilver is quite correct in saying that there is no evidence that large mail garments were laced through with leather thongs as a strengther. This fallacy evolved primarily from the way mail was portrayed in certain historical statuary and other images. The texture of mail, consisting as it does of a very dense pattern of repeating rings, is extremely difficult to draw or render in stone. This led to the creation of artistic conventions for depicting mail which certain historians misinterpreted. One of these conventions was to depict rows of small semi-circles, a method which does resemble both mail and "banded mail".

There are a few examples of leather thongs being laced through mail. Some mail hauberks and bishop's mantles used this method to create a standing collar. Other hauberks included a few individual leather thongs through the mail around the arms and leges to help the garment maintain its shape.

However, the type of armor which the Dungeons and Dragons authors referred to as "banded mail" is quite real. Because of the way the human torso flexes, an armor composed of horizontal bands of metal can provide excellent protection without significantly restricting the wearer's mobility. This style of armor was developed independently all over the world.

This style of armor was never referred to as "banded mail" before the nineteenth century. It was referred to as "anime" in the sixteenth century.

An extensive discussion of the use of this armor in Asia can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/3505/page7.html

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