Packing around a whole mess of swords, axes and sundry other weapons is all well and good . . . but what happens when the Enemies get past your poorly-timed thrust, or you accidentally drop your oh-so-pretty axe? Well, my friend, that's when you call in the heavy armor. Designed to stop a sword or piercing arrow, armor is a necessity for Thorin & Co. if they hope to reach Erebor in one piece. Luckily, we're talking about dwarves, and Middle-earth has never seen a people more skilled at making (and wearing) armor.
Read on past the break to learn about the various types of armor Thorin and his crew have chosen to see them safely through to the broken gates of the Lonely Mountain!
|Close up of the brigandine-style armor protecting Thorin's arm|
|Thorin's full brigandine|
In terms of complexity, the brigandine is a transitional piece of armor, falling somewhere in between chain mail and plate armor. Unlike plate mail, a brigandine is easily repaired, and while the dwarves undoubtedly possessed the skills to repair plate mail, carrying the necessary tools and supplies (forge, anvil, hammer, tongs, raw iron, etc.) would have proven difficult. It is possible the Thorin--knowing that their quest would carry the company far from civilization--opted for the brigandine to make repairs easier and faster.
|Kili's brigandine collar|
The fact that Thorin and Kili are wearing brigandine armor may also offer us an insight into the society of the Exiles from Erebor: the dwarves in the Ered Luin have apparently amassed enough skill and wealth to move beyond ordinary chain mail armor, but have not yet reached the point where plate mail is a feasible/economical armor solution.
|Brigandine cuff on Gloin's surcoat|
A final note: it is interesting to see how metal seems to play an important role in dwarven fashion. In human and elvish cultures, metal is rarely incorporated into clothing except for ceremonial clothes. Unsurprisingly--given their normal occupation--dwarves seem much more ready to incorporate metal into every-day clothing. Perhaps--as was discussed in the post on weapons--this is a reflection of the dwarves' practicality. As can be seen in the figure to the right, Gloin's surcoat features a brigandine cuff that is at once decorative and functional.
|Dori's leather vambrace|
Leather armor offers several advantages over chain or plate mail: leather is relatively cheap and easy to come by; leather is easier to replace and/or repair than metal armor; armor constructed of leather is lighter and easier to wear for prolonged periods of time. Any or all of these factors may have played into the dwarves' decision to choose leather armor.
|Inner side of Nori's leather vambrace|
All of the dwarves' vambraces are detailed with the geometric patterns typical of dwarven decoration. Bifur's vambrace is an especially beautiful piece: A woven pattern of leather thongs forms a glove to protect the backs of his hands. This glove is attached to a stiff guard of boiled leather that has been tooled with a repeating pattern of thick leather bands and stippled triangles.
|Fili's plate mail belt|
|Dwalin's plate mail gauntlets|
As we can see, Thorin's crew is outfitted with several types of armor offering differing levels of protection. It will be interesting to see how will the dwarves are protected from the dangers they will face along the way to the Lonely Mountain.
Thoughts and comments? Let us know below!