15 - Favourite Armour
Well, I pre-empted that one, didn't I?
A day later and my favourite armour is still the elven armour worn in Helms Deep :) Since I posted some film pics yesterday, I decided to use some pictures (of both weapons and armour) taken out of Chris Smith's wonderful "Weapons and Warfare"-book. And I'll add a few pieces of text taken out of the same book. So, here we go:
"The bows of the Galadhrim were probably the most beautiful in all Middle-earth, and certainly the most powerful; they were made from the legendary mallorn trees that grew only in the Golden Wood of Lórien. [...] The seven-foot staff was sealed with mallorn resin and gilded in an elegant embossed pattern of twining golden leaves either side of the leather handgrip; the curved ends of the staff were gilded and bore a spur, but the nock was located a few inches further in. The length of the bow meant that they could never be fully drawn, but it still meant that the Elves would pull the string back beyond the eye rather than up to it: this required an huge amount of individual strength and years of training as the bows would have had a draw of more than 200 pounds.
[...] The pale arrows were almost four feet long, made from unstained ash or occasionally mallorn shoots, with long broad-head tips made of gold that extended into a long sleeve that gave greater stability. The barbs gave the tips the subtle appearance of a mallorn leaf and were used as cutting edges to tear into the enemy: they were lethal against all targets, whether armoured or not. The flights were long white goose or swan feathers, and these were skilfully tied to the shaft in a spiral pattern with a single corkscrewing loop of gold wire. Lórien arrows were the only ones at that time to employ a spiral fletching, so it can be assumed that the Elves were unique in discovering that an arrow fired with a spiralling flight is much more accurate than a normal one.
[...] Like the sword, the design of the quiver differed little to that used almost three thousand years before: it was made of leather, stood roughly half the length of the arrows, and its mouth resembled two overlapping leaves.
The sword carried by the Elves of Lórien differed little to that carried by their Noldor kin during the Last Alliance. It can therefore be assumed that the design had already reached its pinnacle in the Second Age, and was merely faithfully reproduced whenever a new sword was required.
[...] As has been said before, the five-foot sword was half blade and half handgrip: the blade was relatively wide given its length, sharp only along the lower edge and with more weight in the top of the blade than near the cutting edge - it was fullered along the entire length of the top part of the blade. The cutting edge curved up to meet the tip, rather than tapering like a normal sword, partly to keep the blade strong along the entire length and partly to extend the cutting edge round.
[...] Haldir's sword is reported to have been similar in shape to Hadhafang, but larger and thicker in the blade. While it bore no runes down the blade it did have an inset, curving flower-bud detail which grew into the fuller.
The scabbard of the Elven swords was the twin of them in terms of beauty: made from the trees of the Golden Wood, it was a deep burnished honey, with gold tengwar patterns etched along its length. It seems to have been attached to the rig that held the quiver as well as to the belt that went around the warrior's waist: like the arrows, it was long and so was worn on the back, being drawn over the shoulder rather than across the body.
[...] The most significant factor behind [the] changes between Elven armour of the Second and Third Ages was that the armour worn at the Last Alliance was of Noldorin design whereas that worn at Helm's Deep was fashioned by the Sindarin Elves of Lothlórien. As has already been said, Third Age Elven armour reflected the autumnal themes and hues seen in nature - the coppers and browns and rich golds - as opposed to the greens and yellow-golds of spring, or rebirth, found in earlier pieces.
Before marching to Helm's Deep the Elves put on their steel battle armour [...]. Over their normal travelling clothes was worn a hauberk of very fine gold, leaf-shaped mail, with long sleeves that went into a knee-length skirt of metallic silk that had been painstakingly embroidered to give it a pattern of row upon row of tiny leaf-shapes. Both hauberk and skirt gave the appearance of a carpet of leaves fallen from the tree, nearing the end of their natural cycle. Unlike the Noldorin armour, the gold-plated steel cuirass and fauld were separate. The cuirass represented the very pinnacle of armour design: it was like a fan, in that it featured a hinge point at the breastbone that allowed the lames on both sides to move over each other as the soldier drew his arrows and sword, and as he spun and twisted in combat. This hinge point was decorated with a badge that had each Elf's house enamelled on to it. Each lame was slightly curved to represent a fallen leaf, with the veins on the underside of the leaf now exposed; trailing across the metal armour was a fine gold filigree representing both delicate vines and the tengwar of the written language, Quenya. [...] The fauld consisted of eight lames, and like the cuirass these were linked with leather points to move with the soldier as he did; the design again reflected a fallen leaf. The fauld was attached to the body by a leather belt. To further protect the stomach, a leather tunic was worn between the hauberk and the cuirass. Leather was also used for the gloves and bracers, the bracers extending over the hands to protect them from the snap of the bowstring. To protect the outside of the arms a steel vambrace was tied over the bracer, and a steel pauldron was strapped to the cuirass and arm.
The autumnal theme extended to the helmet, in that its latticed steel gave the appearance of a torn leaf. It flexed when it was put on, fitting snugly around the head to ensure it stayed in place during battle; the small curved crest was more decorative than defensive.
The last item of protection was a cloak of deep green silk, its long ties passing over the shoulders and back to be tied around the waist; although of little use against direct attack its movement could distract the eye of an attacker, causing them to miss their aim. The Sindarin refinement of the Noldorin design resulted in an armour that was the most sophisticated ever to be seen in Middle-earth.