In our modern world we have few examples left of a craft that would be passed down through the generations. While some arts, sports, and physical skills are indeed taught from parent to child, and certain vocations (such as agriculture) are typically kept within a family, we must look back through the centuries for examples of professions that are truly generational. Armor smithing is one such skill set, and it is an art that takes several lifetimes to fully develop. Part of the process of training a new generation involves producing samples of a craft, and it is for this reason we have surviving suits of “miniature armor.”
The practice of constructing miniature suits of armor is an interesting one. We have multiple examples of suits of armor modelled after different styles of full-size armor, some fully articulated and functional, others clearly intended to be almost statues on display. There are several reasons why smiths would engage in the practice. At the most practical level, new smiths would be required to practice technique on a smaller scale (thus wasting less materials) before moving on the full sized suits for actual use. Slightly less practically oriented, small suits of armor would be made for children of nobles and royalty for parade purposes (and, in some cases, to get them accustomed to wearing armor for extended periods of time). Finally, suits of miniature armor made to look like true, full-sized armor yet lacking full articulation and joints would be created for display purposes, such as in guildhalls or for collections in wealthy homes.
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