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Old 8th March 2021, 09:54 AM   #61
colin henshaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
For quite a while i wonder whether the large skin cracks on Panoleon example already existed before it was riveted to the iron piece or it simply kept drying on its new host and its splitting went on taking place through time.
Any suggestions, Gentlemen ?


Most likely just due to drying out over a long period of time as the skin could not shrink naturally due to being riveted to a metal plate.
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Old 8th March 2021, 10:23 AM   #62
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This is just a shot in the dark, but how about India as a place of origin (the skin could be from a Gavial) ? I haven't seen any other examples of gavial-covered armour but just wanted to throw an idea into the mix.
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Old 8th March 2021, 10:30 AM   #63
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A good suggestion. I have found this crocodile armour from Malaysia:

https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/473722454563242022/
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Old 8th March 2021, 11:44 AM   #64
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I can add a little more to the "prop" option (at the risk of upsetting Jim should any of the terms mentioned not meet with his approval ) :-

a) As well as movie props , theatre props should considered.

b) Circus type shows and exhibitions in the late 19th century. At this time period there existed the shameful practice of importing natives by some circus showmen, prominent being P T Barnum and R A Cunningham ... the natives were to perform various lurid and ludicrous displays. Natives were imported from Africa, India, Polynesia and Australia and performances took place in North America and Europe. Of course, exotic and showy props were required in the performances and possibly the cuirass in question could fit the bill. Some images attached.

I won't delve further into this painful yet factual history, but anyone wishing to learn more should read "Professional Savages, Captive Lives and Western Spectacle" by Roslyn Poignant 2004.

Finally, in respect of the "diplomatic gifts" option, I attach an woodcut image of Omai on his return to Tahiti on Captain Cook's third voyage and wearing his gift of a suit of armour ...
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Old 8th March 2021, 05:51 PM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
Most likely just due to drying out over a long period of time as the skin could not shrink naturally due to being riveted to a metal plate.


Animal hides, skins, naturally dry out over time if not lubricated by some sort of oil or conditioner. Cracks will occur in 'dry' periods if conditioning or oiling is not done .

In the situation I described in an earlier post where I was involved with an old Spanish leather 'cuera', which turned out to be late 17th c.....the cuirass had been stored for decades, and had literally collapsed upon itself. It took nearly a year of conservation to replenish oils and establish the strength in the leather to hold its shape.

This may have been the reason for the placement of this iron liner on this crocodile armor, to add structure to a somewhat deteriorated old item. If the conditioning of the hide is not attended to, naturally it will shrink and probably pull away from the rivets as the material drys and cracks.
That is just my view of what may occur but my view is far from any authority in these kinds of forensics.
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Old 8th March 2021, 06:10 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panoleon
A good suggestion. I have found this crocodile armour from Malaysia:

https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/473722454563242022/


As LJ has noted in the previous post, there are clearly numerous cases of crocodile armor in other ethnographic cultures.
I had come across this armor from these regions which noted these crocodile vests (termed armor in the references even though with open front as in a vest) earlier as well, and it certainly offers more perspective.

Interestingly, these 'armor' vests of crocodile hide were made by the natives of island of Nias (in Indonesia) and termed 'baru oroba'. While the OLDER ones are made of crocodiile hide, as the population of crocodlles depleted, the natives began using metal (ZINC or IRON) acquired from the 'foreign' people, colonial traders and fashioned similar vests called 'oroba s'roli'.
which means 'iron vest'.

These armor were of course used as protection in warfare with the early ones, as well in degree with iron ones, but more modern, they became ceremonial items worn in traditional ceremonies and festivals .

It is interesting to see the similarities with the history of these particular examples of 'crocodile vest' in an entirely different cultural sphere, and their advent from warfare implement into traditional vestige used ceremonially.
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Old 8th March 2021, 06:35 PM   #67
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How about it having shrunk before and after ... and parts of it that have meanwhile fallen off !


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Old 8th March 2021, 07:10 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
I can add a little more to the "prop" option (at the risk of upsetting Jim should any of the terms mentioned not meet with his approval ) :-

a) As well as movie props , theatre props should considered.

b) Circus type shows and exhibitions in the late 19th century. At this time period there existed the shameful practice of importing natives by some circus showmen, prominent being P T Barnum and R A Cunningham ... the natives were to perform various lurid and ludicrous displays. Natives were imported from Africa, India, Polynesia and Australia and performances took place in North America and Europe. Of course, exotic and showy props were required in the performances and possibly the cuirass in question could fit the bill. Some images attached.

I won't delve further into this painful yet factual history, but anyone wishing to learn more should read "Professional Savages, Captive Lives and Western Spectacle" by Roslyn Poignant 2004.

Finally, in respect of the "diplomatic gifts" option, I attach an woodcut image of Omai on his return to Tahiti on Captain Cook's third voyage and wearing his gift of a suit of armour ...



Thanks Colin, and I do appreciate the tender attention to my perceived sensitivities on the use of terms. It seems as so often the use of a term or phrase used in entries is challenged (especially in my case) as being incorrect, inflated, inappropriate etc.... I was under the impression it was OK to add input in kind. It has never been my intention to annoy or rebuke anyone personally, but to add perspective where a misused term might misalign the situation at hand.
When my wife catches me in a mistake, I just tell her, I did it on purpose just so she wont think I'm perfect

I have truly enjoyed this discussion, and it has honestly been a learning experience, and this item is a true conundrum.

Considering myself a kind of 'devils advocate 'on this topic, I do not discount any possibility, but do feel strongly that this is an African item, and used in the context of the West African warrior groups, possibly continued in use in the society cults.

The reason I think it was fabricated in Africa is that the shape resembles the other hide armors used by warriors in these societies in West Africa, most notably the pangolin hide types. The strong colonial presence provided more than adequate supply of steel, rivets, etc. of European origin which could be used by native artisans to refurbish this as described.

In the unfortunate slave trade which took place in these regions, the primary commodities used as mediums of exchange were of course, guns and powder, as well as cowrie shells. Natives tend to excitedly respond to items and materials that are 'foreign' and unavailable to them if I have understood correctly. We see many images of native warriors proudly exhibiting weapons and dress of European origin.

Turning to the 'prop' angle here.
While considering 'movie props' naturally if we are looking at this area in a general sense, items of greater antiquity, of course 'theater (or opera) items would be included. As noted, in the latter 19th c. with the publics intrigue with the exotica of natives and peoples of faraway lands, there were staged performances much like the'Buffalo Bill'' kind which traveled all over.

Naturally, there was great demand for costuming, and one cannot discount that this item might have been fabricated for same......or perhaps, taken, as is, for use in these performances. Either way, I feel the crocodile armor is a genuinely used item which has been refurbished with iron......possibly in ceremonial use,.......then taken into the the theatrical fold.
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Old 9th March 2021, 11:01 AM   #69
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Excelent poingts on the Nias war armour. Amazing in that, even having to resource European materials (zinc, tin) to keep building their armoured vests (crocodiles being extinguished), they kept to their rather genuine design, with those protuberant shoulder covers, as forming a protection while allowing the arms moves ... maybe also as a fashion approach. Also amazing that, using skilled techniques to sew the eleven parts of a hide to put on a vest, such parts highly hardened through a special process, they neglected its front, which was open and without a buttoning system; as if they found it more important to defend their back, where the larger section of the hide is applied; this of course being in reality explained by other reasons... like the front being protected by the shield ?


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Old 9th March 2021, 11:12 AM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw
... Finally, in respect of the "diplomatic gifts" option, I attach an woodcut image of Omai on his return to Tahiti on Captain Cook's third voyage and wearing his gift of a suit of armour ...

And what an impressive list of gifts said to have 'escorted' such young British prótegé; port wine; gunpowder, muskets and bullets;, a hand organ, some tin soldiers; a globe of the world; crockery and kitchenware; a variety of fancy goods; animals, including a horse ... and a suit of armour.
This would make feel envious the common mortal .
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Old 9th March 2021, 11:43 AM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
And what an impressive list of gifts said to have 'escorted' such young British prótegé; port wine; gunpowder, muskets and bullets;, a hand organ, some tin soldiers; a globe of the world; crockery and kitchenware; a variety of fancy goods; animals, including a horse ... and a suit of armour.
This would make feel envious the common mortal .


Yes, quite a bizarre and diverse assembly. Seemingly however, the list of gifts provided was criticised even at the time and some thought more benefical and practical items such as woodworking tools and similar would have been better. He died not so very long after his return to Tahiti. Omai's story is most interesting, there are books on the topic which well worth reading.
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Old 9th March 2021, 04:17 PM   #72
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Thank you Fernando, good observation on the open fronts of these 'vests', and I agree that the frontal area was probably considered protected by the shields, which from examples I have seen were rather elongated and vertical in most cases.
It is curious to imagine these kinds of armor defense and how the agility of the warrior might have been impaired. Without really knowing the warfare tactics and techniques of these tribes it is hard to say.

While not wishing to belabor the 'cult' probability of our discussion armor, I have continued researching that aspect, and wanted to share some findings and observations. I realize that this aspect of subject matter may be somewhat objectionable to many, so I try to keep details objective and somewhat redacted. Tribal practices in many of these regions in West Africa have never been a 'pretty picture' from western perceptions, and the activities of colonial incursion certainly were notably aggravating as well.

To the use of the iron cuirass mounting affiixed to the apparently much older crocodile hide, I had suggested earlier perhaps it was for added defense from bullets in the now advanced circumstances with firearms. The question was how effective would this iron be, as it seems the weight was quite light.

I wanted to add for comparison, the iron armor used by the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, which was fashioned from plough molds and apparantly 'bush forged' (rather than by professional blacksmith). This meant that this was done in pieces with some parts heated and bent over green trunks, and riveted together. The iron was 1/4" thick.
It was cumbersome and heavy (97 lbs) and while it repelled bullets successfully, it did not prevent blunt force type injuries from the impacted metal.

This comparison (while Kelly's armor was of course more elaborate) would support that the iron addition to the crocodile hide in our discussion piece was not likely for bullet proofing.

Returning to the cult regalia concept, in earlier times, there were a number of 'societies' which were basically warrior groups and politico-social organizations. One of the most notorious were the 'leopard hunter group.
While much of the activity had focused on the superstitions and traditions of the folk religions and magic and metaphysical beliefs, by about the 1870s, more nefarious dynamics had perpetuated into off shoot groups, one of which was the 'Neegee' cult (neegee, Bassa word =crocdile) . The leopard hunters had devolved into the leopard men cult.
To the traditional societies, these cults were evil and feared.

The belief in magic was profound, and it was believed that certain persons were shape shifters who were able to change into certain formidable animals, such as the leopard and the crocodile. ...and that these persons would lie in wait in the wilds and mimick the character and killing style of the chosen animal in attacking their victims.

With the leopard cult the member would wear a leopard mask, drape themselves in leopard skins and use wicked claws fashioned of steel, even steel toothed mouthpieces.

While the apparel/ regalia of the leopard men is described, that of the apparently more secret and more despised crocodile group , I have not found such detail.

It would seem that these 'crocodile' men would also follow this pattern, but the crocodile hide itself would be cumbersome, even without the iron cladding, so would seem impractical for these nocturnal 'hunts.
It would seem more likely that perhaps this item may have been for a priest or official in less dynamic circumstances such as ritual or meetings.
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Old 10th March 2021, 10:40 AM   #73
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Dear Jim, from your previous thread i give account that the one fresh approach is the Ned Kelly saga. May i suggest that his gang shielding apparatuses have by no means any linkage to the implement under discussion; not in form, nor in resistence, neither in means. We can't establish the minimum comparison bewteen a 1/4" thick (tempered) plough comonents and a thin bent sheet of soft iron, circa four times thinner.
I would end by saying that, while Ned's and his pack adventure has proven pathetic, Panoleon's item still has an unproven explanation .

Yours humbly
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Old 10th March 2021, 10:56 AM   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Panoleon's item still has an unproven explanation .


Can we agree on the following points:

1/ Crocodile armours exist
2/ Crocodile armours exist all over the world and they are not specific to Africa
3/ Crocodile armour or cuirasses are made of animal skin and not reinforced with iron breast plates
4/ The construction techniques of Panoleon's item look European
5/ Panoleon's item is from the 20th c.




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Old 10th March 2021, 12:19 PM   #75
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In context, what misses an explanation is why, by whom and what this thing was made for.
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Old 10th March 2021, 12:36 PM   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
In context, what misses an explanation is why, by whom and what this thing was made for.


Correct, but these information's are subjective.

On one side, we have the objective information's, physical descriptions and facts.

On the other side, we can try to guess by whom and why, but to do this, we need elements of comparison in books and museums...

Without these data, any explanation will be a lovely story, but no more.
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Old 10th March 2021, 01:04 PM   #77
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I gather that explanations are not subjective, but objective . Maybe no conclusion will ever come out, who knows. Until then, this has been fun; constructive+cultural discussions have been taking place, which is great .
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Old 10th March 2021, 02:44 PM   #78
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Another suggestion .... Panoleon could, if he wishes, send images and a description of the cuirass to the Ethnographic curators at say the British Museum and the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. I have done this successfully a few times when faced with hard to identify items. Their holdings and reference materials are enormous, so if anyone can at least say if the cuirass is a genuine African object or not, it is them. The curator at the BM is Christopher Spring, not sure who at the Pitt-Rivers...
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Old 10th March 2021, 04:12 PM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Dear Jim, from your previous thread i give account that the one fresh approach is the Ned Kelly saga. May i suggest that his gang shielding apparatuses have by no means any linkage to the implement under discussion; not in form, nor in resistence, neither in means. We can't establish the minimum comparison bewteen a 1/4" thick (tempered) plough comonents and a thin bent sheet of soft iron, circa four times thinner.
I would end by saying that, while Ned's and his pack adventure has proven pathetic, Panoleon's item still has an unproven explanation .

Yours humbly


Of course it remains unexplained, and as you have apparently agreed with the point I was making by using this comparison (also regarded as an analogy, which means it is NOT directly related to the item or subject being examined).
My intent was to actually dismantle my own previous suggestion that perhaps this liner of iron was for bullet proofing, by showing that iron plate adequate for protection was probably much heavier (as this comparison illustrates).

So as you note this 'comparison' does not serve as an explanation, but is objectively disqualifying toward a subjective suggestion I had previously made, thus eliminated from the ongoing discussion. I very much agree, this discussion as been fun, and very informative....I know Im learning a lot.
As Kubur has well noted, comparisons are essential, and Colin's suggestion of Pitt Rivers is well placed.
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Old 10th March 2021, 05:09 PM   #80
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Well Jim, i wouldn't be surprised if Napoleon's item turns out to be one of a kind, thus incomparable. OTOH, i would certainly subscribe Colin's suggestion. It sure is a good test; Panoleon willing to do it .
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Old 11th March 2021, 12:15 PM   #81
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Default The bullet proof "off topic" variant ...

Panoleon, may i appologize for diverting but Jim, you are a Texas wanderer. Have you ever been in Waco, in a visit to the Texas Rangers museum ?
You sure remember the American (Ned Kelly) bullet proof 'home version' . Also a failure ... also a dramatic one .


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Old 11th March 2021, 12:34 PM   #82
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Thanks Fernando,
Yup, Ive been there OK, and had forgotten this anomaly.
In further thinking, one of the tangible theories which has been mentioned here, but gained no further traction, is Colin's suggestion that perhaps this was an old armor put onto an iron display setup.

Without further evidence of such apparatus (a good descriptive word Fernando)being actually worn, this seems a viable theory which is tenable as a reasonable explanation.

In museums I have seen excavated swords and relics which were displayed mounted on clear plastic casing to fill in for the missing elements.
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Old 11th March 2021, 04:52 PM   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... In further thinking, one of the tangible theories which has been mentioned here, but gained no further traction, is Colin's suggestion that perhaps this was an old armor put onto an iron display setup...

Making me remember #10:
Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
... Or could it be that someone else, in the greatest of fantasies, had the iron part made in order to prop up the historic hide and keep the cuirass upright and 'alive' ?...
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Old 12th March 2021, 01:11 AM   #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Making me remember #10:

Well that was my fox paws!!! Sorry Fernando, my bad...........
As noted, it was a good suggestion.
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Old 12th March 2021, 10:40 AM   #85
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As indeed, very small in height, as per given measures; a 'suspicious' neck opening shape, as too squarish; and no visible marks of having had a means to hold it over shoulders and sides.
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