In the Royal Ontario Museum, I found this armor, and was perplexed by the two gold rings that appear on the breastplate. Close up of samurai armor showing gold nipple rings While it seem that something ought to be attached to them, no example of samurai armor in the museum demonstrated this.

Wikipedia's article on samurai armor shows this component in a diagram, but there is no associated number or description (see the line immediately above the line marked "1"). line art of samurai armor

My first thought was that some sort of banner would be attached to the front, but examples cited by the article refer to being attached to the back or shoulder.

Is there an explanation, or better yet, a picture of this component in use?

  • 9
    If you want to look for pictures, those rings are called “saihai no kan” (right, for a saihai, a baton) and “tenugui no kan” (left, for a tenugui, a piece of cloth). Sep 27, 2023 at 3:28
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    @CarlosMartin : it seems you have all the knowledge needed to change your comment into a good answer !
    – Evargalo
    Sep 27, 2023 at 6:23
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    @Evargalo No, I don't speak Japanese nor I have a good source of images like SPavel asked for. I just looked up those rings in a book about armors all over the world. Sep 27, 2023 at 6:30
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    I would be very interested in seeing how these items connect to the rings - looking up a saihai and a tenugui, it's not clear to me how this would connect, and as not all samurai armors have these rings it would be great to know some background about their introduction and context of use as well.
    – SPavel
    Sep 27, 2023 at 13:02
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    "breast ring" was not the correct google term, fyi
    – pipe
    Sep 27, 2023 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


Carlos Martin's comment can be verified by a standard book on Japanese armor. The rings are discussed in the book "Arms and Armour of the Samurai" cited below. I shall quote the relevant paragraph ad verbatim from page 108.

"Commanders still carried fans with which to direct the movement of their troops; these were even more necessary since the wearing of masks made speech difficult. A new form of insignia, indicating rank, was introduced; it took the form of a tassel of hair or paper often gilded, which hung from a short batton. These sai hai were either tucked into the sash or hung from a ring (sai hai no kan) provided for that purpose on the right breast of the do. A second ring, supposedly for a towel but more probably simply to balance the appearance of the do, was added the left breast on some armours; this became virtually standard during the Edo period."

The book contains many high quality pictures of full suits of armor with either zero, one or two rings. Do is the Japanese word for body armor.


I. Bottomley and A. P. Hopson
"Arms and Armour of the Samuari"
Published by Defoe Publishing
Copyright 1988 Bison Books Ltd
ISBN 1 870 98105 7


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