These arms are typical of a mounted warrior in the "Sudanic" region of Africa (the belt of grasslands just south of the Sahara). This area was heavily influenced by Islam during the Middle Ages, and many Africans converted to the new religion. They also adopted Islamic styles of arms and armor. This small round shield is characteristically Islamic, although here adapted to specifically African styles.
Dictated by functionality rather than fashion, armor fell into gradual decline during the seventeenth century, first in quality, later also in quantity. The weight of field armor was greatly increased in order to render it bulletproof against ever more accurate firearms. At the same time, however, the full suit of armor became increasingly rare, not only because of the amplified weight but also because of changes in tactics. Most fighting men, including their leaders, began to abandon what they viewed as excessive equipment, with only vital parts of the body, such as the head, torso, and hands, remaining protected by metal armor. A few masters, mostly court armorers, continued to produce armor of superior quality for more illustrious clients of the European nobility, but such examples were the exception rather than the rule. The growing demand to fit out large standing armies with armor at low cost (and, consequently, low quality) drastically curbed the influence fashion had on armor, although even so-called munition armor was still modeled after contemporary male costume. In shape, the breastplate began to appear squarer, while the former “peascod” profile became flatter, retaining a distinct medial ridge that now ended in a short, sharp point in line with the lower edge of the breastplate. The tassets (defenses for the upper thighs attached to the breastplate) became large in size and mirrored the exuberant emphasis on the broad hips found in contemporary fashion.
At the turn of the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, one of the most startling changes in taste and fashion occurred, which was immediately mirrored in armor and can best be witnessed in the German harness of the period. Through what appears to have been combined influences from Italy and the (formerly Burgundian) Netherlands, the earlier emphasis on elegance and almost delicate slenderness, which so far had been emblematic of armor worn in many parts of the Holy Roman Empire and western Europe, suddenly—within the space of ten years—gave way to new forms. This change in fashion sprang from a new understanding and acceptance of the human body. Rather than obscuring bodily mass and idealizing its shape and presence, this very presence and physicality of the human body was now being emphasized. In accordance with a changed taste in civilian fashion, a new elegance was achieved by accentuating massive shape, more rounded forms, and a generally heavier outline, while still retaining a distinctive waist and well-modeled male legs.