How did common chinese armor change through history?
In the early periods of Chinese history, many commoners had no armor at all, but wealthy nobles would wear breastplates made of boiled leather or bronze, but these were extremely heavy. As armor improved, many commoners then began to wear leather breastplates and helmets in battle and nobles began to use lighter and stronger forms of armor.
By the 5th century BC, iron had become a common form of armor for many wealthy soldiers but common soldiers were still either armed in very basic leather or not at all. By the rise of the Han dynasty, scaled armor had become widespread due to its effectiveness and maneuverability, but again was reserved for the wealthy. A standard and professional army was then established and each soldier was given standard bronze, iron, or leather armor along with a leather or wooden shield.
During the Tang and Song dynasties, many nobles began to use the mountain style of armor, which is named due to it being in the shape of the Chinese symbol for mountain(山). Chain mail also became popular around this period, which made armor far lighter and maneuverable.
Mail armor became the common form of armor until well into the 19th century, but by then most armor had become merely ceremonial due to the rise of firearms and modern military tactics.