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A man wearing a breastplate.
This can also refer to a piece of riding equipment: see Breastplate .


A breastplate is a device worn over the torso either to protect the torso from injury, or as an item of religious significance, or as an item of status. A breastplate was sometimes worn by mythological beings as a distinctive item of clothing.

Armour

In medieval weaponry, the breastplate is the front portion of plate armour covering the torso. It has been an armour mainstay since ancient times and was one of the last pieces of functional armour to be used on the battlefield because it protected the vital organs without limiting mobility.

Status

The hair-pipe breastplates of 19th-century Plains Indians were made from bones from the West Indian conch, brought to New York docks as ballast and then traded to native Americans of the upper Missouri Rivermarker. Their popularity spread rapidly after their invention by the Comanche in 1854. They were too fragile and expensive to be considered armour, and were instead a symbol of wealth during the economic depression among Plains Indians after the buffalo were exterminated.

Metaphorical

In the Bible, the word Breastplate is used figuratively to describe protecting oneself from unrighteousness (cf, , , etc).

Mythological

Both Zeus and Athena are sometimes depicted as wearing a goatskin shield or breastplate called an Aegis. At the center of Athena's shield was the head of Medusa.

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