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Thread: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

  1. #1
    Primicerius
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    Default Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    Greetings.Seeing as there has been much question concerning the presence and use of the Horo by many on the forums I thought perhaps I would provide this excerpt for the esteemed Stephen Turnbull (Who incidentally served as chief advisor to CA for the creation of this game) and his excellent book The Samurai Sourcebook where he goes into description of this ornamental piece....here goes...

    "The Horo is a very important overcloth of Military Men.It is very wise to carry it always because it drives away all sorts of calamity and misfortune,and when you are killed on the battlefield the enemy will understand,as they recognise the Horo,that the dead man was not a common person,and so your corpse will be well treated.When fighting,the Horo must be fastened to the ring which is called horotsuke no kan.When you have killed an enemy who wears the horo,wrap his head,which you cut off,in a piece of his horo."

    due to the style and wording I suspect that this excerpt was taken from an earlier contemporary piece,but it does the job to explain that even though it is called the "arrow tangler" there is no real reference to this usage(unless we count deflecting arrows as one of the myriad calamities that it is said to ward off) but instead served as a mark of distinction and immediate recognisation for the wearer(as it is also commented that often the wearers name was written on it in large script as an advertisment of sorts to worthy foes and a warning to his enemies).I hope this helps to clarify some of the questions that have been surfacing amongst the threads

  2. #2

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    I've read once something about it.
    Some sceptical scholars wanted to really "test it", in real situations.
    And they did exactly that: they fired arrows at a horo attached on the back of a horse.
    The result was stunning, and the horo worked just fine, not a single arrow passed through it.
    Perhaps something to do with the "bubble shape" of the horo which absorbs the energy of the arrow.
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  3. #3
    Primicerius
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    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    As well what some forget is that the Horo is actually stretched over a wicker basket,which of course would lessen the impact as well.I am thinking that if it was indeed used primarily for the purpose of arrow defense it was an antiquated use by our era of Sengoku Jidai,serving now as an indicator of status,as in the era of the Gempei wars which saw its creation only the Samurai served the role of mounted horesman

  4. #4

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    Recently on the Discovery Channel Mike Loades actually went ahead, threw on the Horo and took off on a horse with a cavalry archer expert firing away at him. It actually protected him pretty well WITHOUT the basket (it was just hanging behind him).

    *spends 15 minutes on this post* THERE IT IS!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26o9LiaB0Zg

    It's part three but that's the part containing the segment where he actually uses the Horo.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    They look like chupa-chups lollipops


  6. #6
    SonOfOdin's Avatar More tea?
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    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    Quote Originally Posted by Dodge View Post
    They look like chupa-chups lollipops

    No spoiler? Shameful display
    /The Eagle Standard/Under the patronage of Omnipotent-Q/Werder Bremen fan/

  7. #7

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    From: Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan (Google eBook), Asiatic Society of Japan, The Society, 1881 p.275-p279
    http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA2...AJ&output=text

    A curious additional defence was worn over the armour, which, as far as we know, has no equivalent in the defences of any other nation, and which went by the name of Haro. It consisted of a largo cloth or Vol. ix. 36
    bag, generally attached loosely to the back of mounted warriors so as to fill with the wind and form a large pillow-shaped projection at the back while riding. Sometimes it was kept filled with air by means of a light oval core of wicker-work attached firmly to the back of the armour. This curious device was supposed to shield the wearer from arrows shot from the side or behind.
    The ordinary length is nearly six feet, and made out of about five strips carefully sewn together lengthwise and strengthened by plaits. Upon the centre, top and bottom the crest of the wearer is worked, and both the upper and lower edge are provided with a fringe. Near the top and bottom, each side is provided with a cord, the top cords being attached either to the helmet or to the large ring at the back of the body armour, which is otherwise used for the Agemaki or handsome silk tassels. In some paintings the huro is shewn as supported upon a rod fixed into a socket on the back; but no particular authority is known for this mode. The lower cords were fastened round the waist. In some cases the horo was worn at the front, hung from the helmet across to the forehead of the horse, being kept in this position by long cords tying it to the stirrups. It thus formed a screen to the face and front of the body, considerably impeding vision.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    Nice info.. never imagine how useful horo thing is

  9. #9

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    I would be interested to see one of these wicker baskets that are being talked about. Because from the discovery channel video it appears that "empty space" is actually what is stopping the arrow, and if you were to put something in between the horo and the back it would allow for easier penetration.
    Is this basket something that just allows the horo to catch air?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    The wicker basket would make more sense as to why the figures in the game look the way they do. I thought they were a bunch of homeless hobos when I first saw them, but what do I know.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    This picture is supposed to represent the frame of a horo.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    Quote Originally Posted by Jandr2729 View Post
    I would be interested to see one of these wicker baskets that are being talked about. Because from the discovery channel video it appears that "empty space" is actually what is stopping the arrow, and if you were to put something in between the horo and the back it would allow for easier penetration.
    Is this basket something that just allows the horo to catch air?
    The basket keeps the horo somewhat ballooned even when there's not sufficient wind. The arrow stopping power is primarily from the fabric clinging to arrows which slows them down, but obviously if the cloth was just limp on your back then the arrow would go straight through without any real slowdown.

    In the end it still was largely a status symbol. The number of horo you seen in the game is far higher than the total number of people allowed to use the horo actually was. For instance, for the entire Oda army there were only 20 men allowed to wear a horo in total(10 men each in red and black horo troops). It certainly wasn't for mere bodyguards.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    I've seen something on ancient armor and it's the wind caught in the Horo which unfortunately gives it's chupa-chups lollipop shape. Some historians used a large fan and strapped the Horo on to it and shot an arrow, don't underestimate japans accidental technological fine on armor in medieval Japan. Think about it, the samurai armor was never intended to give much protection but to make him look good in battle, like wearing a tuxedo at your funeral, same concept. So why the hell not? But the armor can stop arrows.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")


  15. #15

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    Quote Originally Posted by Half_Breed_AZN View Post
    Japan. Think about it, the samurai armor was never intended to give much protection but to make him look good in battle, like wearing a tuxedo at your funeral, same concept. So why the hell not? But the armor can stop arrows.
    Samurai armor was never intended to give much protection????? Please show me were you heard this from. Samurai armor was all about "protection", incredible amounts of work went into even the simple armors, it was never about looking good.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    That discovery channel vid is amazing. Although you have to wonder if the effectiveness is offset by the fact that it's a giant beacon announcing your presence and attracting the attention of every archer. It doesn't seem right that the samurai would wear such a protective piece, and wear it on their backs where it will only protect them when they're running away from archers.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    Quote Originally Posted by bobtheubilder View Post
    . It doesn't seem right that the samurai would wear such a protective piece, and wear it on their backs where it will only protect them when they're running away from archers.
    Ian Bottomley in his book titled "Arms and Armour of the Samurai" pages 59-60 says that the horo may have had some "protective value" when galloping away after an attack, thats not quite the same as "running away". Mr Bottomley also states the the horo actually had two incarnations, the first sometime before the Kamakura period and then its use was revived....but in an incorrect manner. He asserts that it was only the later versions which incorporated the ''oikago'' which is the framework of bamboo or whalebone that is depicted in later prints of the horo. I have read that the oikago was invented by Hate Kayama Masanaga during the Onin War (1467-1477), if this is true then Mr Bottomley may be right about the horo and its two lives. It is quite possible then that originally the horo was more of a defensive garment and that later generations used it more for a symbol of status or rank, marking the wearer of the horo as a messenger "tsukai-ban" or person of importance.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    American Samurai, if I could ask you a non-Horo related question. What's the official word for the crest that appears on the front of Samurai helmets? What meaning do they carry and do you have any websites/books, that could speak more about them? The "heraldic symbol" from Calax's video resembles something I have seen before, and was curious what the official word was for the item that appeared on the front of the helmet.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    Quote Originally Posted by EmbodiedApathy View Post
    American Samurai, if I could ask you a non-Horo related question. What's the official word for the crest that appears on the front of Samurai helmets? What meaning do they carry and do you have any websites/books, that could speak more about them? The "heraldic symbol" from Calax's video resembles something I have seen before, and was curious what the official word was for the item that appeared on the front of the helmet.
    The crest is called "maedate''. Maedate can have several meanings, they can be a symbol of a clan affiliation, they can just be an individual expression of the wearer of the helmet ''Kabuto'' and they can have religious meanings. If you do a search you can find some more info, here is a thread from the Toraba samurai armor forum. http://www.toraba.com/forum/threads....247&t_urn=9229

  20. #20

    Default Re: Explanation of the Horo (Cavalry "Balloon cloak")

    I'd rep you if I could, you are a gentlemen and a scholar good sir. Exactly what I was looking for.

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