Parade Armor Types
During the reign of the Emperor Qianlong, a multi-volume Illustrated
text was put together to standardize all paraphernalia for use within
the Imperial house hold and Empire. The first edition, dated 1759, contains
over 6000 objects. In 1766, a Palace Edition of these regulations was
printed from wood blocks of which six chapters deal with armor, weaponry
and the trappings of war. This HuangChiao LiQi DuShih (Illustrated Regulations
for the Ceremonial Regalia of the Imperial Court) maybe used as a guide
to identifying grades of Qing parade armor. From the information provided
I divided the various types of armor into categories based on color &
fabric design. The most obvious difference between the various ranks being
their color (it should be noted that while these suits are presented as
‘armor’, they are in fact for parade and do not contain any actual armor
plate; by Qianlong’s reign, 1736-1796, the widespread use of matchlocks
and cannon made armor increasing obsolete). The descriptions for each
rank are given in the order they are in the HuangChiao LiQi DuShih:
Huang Di Da Yue Jia Yi, Er- Emperor’s Grand Review Armor One , Two:
Very elaborate, of Imperial (Golden) Yellow with the Five Clawed Dragon.
Qianlong period armor (r. 1736-1796)
Huang Di Sui Shi Jia- Emperor’s Body Guards’/Attendants’ Armor:
Quite ornate, Stone Blue in color with gold dragon with flower patterns
on front & back & shoulders, dragons on sleeves, & mirror and Moon White
lining. Judging from the original wood block illustrations, these look
to be as ornate as the Huang Di’s. While these armor are worn by body
guards, it is interesting to note that they do not contain any armor plates.
Qin Wang Jia- Emperor’s Brother Armor may also be worn Empress’ Brother
(if given rank by the Emperor): ‘Stone Blue’ with interlocking ‘Y’s
with Moon White silk lining. The shang fu of this suit has four rows of
Qin Wang Jia- Emperor’s Brother Armor, also worn by Jun Wang (District
Kings, usually the Emperor’s Son) and the Emperor’s Sons: Same pattern
as above but Golden Yellow in color with interlocking ‘Y’ brocade with
Moon White silk lining. The regulations do not mention the use of any
dragon decoration, however existing variations have four clawed dragons
(refered as mang instead of Long as in the case of five clawed dragons)
The five clawed dragon is reserved for the Emperor and heir apparent,
unless an official is specifically presented with a five clawed uniform
by the Emperor.
Bei Ne Jia- Imperial Family Armor, worn by members of the extended
Imperial family: Simular to Qin Wang Jia with the same shang fu, ‘Stone
Blue’ in color with interlocking ‘Y’s.
Zhi Guan Jia Yi, Er, San- Official Position Armor One, Two and Three.
Type one is worn by Inner Court Officials (Ministers) Chief of Staff for
the Baqi, Ranking Military Provincial Officers, Princes in the Military,
First Rank Military Officers, Second Rank Civilian Officials, & High Ranking
General with Special Titles, type two is worn by third rank civilian officials
and second rank military officers (colonel), type three is worn by Lieutenant
Colonels: All three types are Stone Blue Plain Satin with silver nail
heads with Blue cotton lining. Type one has a dragon embroidery on the
qian dang, while types two and three do not. It is interesting to note
that the description for these speaks of both dragon (five clawed dragons)
embroideries and mang (four clawed dragon) embroideries. The mang being
used on the shang fu of type one and two. The shang fu of type three has
four rows of jazerant instead of mang embroidery.
Qian Feng Xiao Jia- Vanguard Division Lieutenant Armor worn by Captain
and Lieutenant Ranks: White satin with stone blue piping, no sleeves,
yellow bronze (brass) nail heads, with one mang on the front and one on
the back with lotus flower embroidery through out. The shang fu has three
rows of jazerant plate.
Jian Qi Xiao Jia- Cavalry (???) Lieutenant Armor: Same design
as that of Qian Feng Xiao Jia except satin and piping is in color of Banner
to which officer belongs and the shang fu has embroidery instead of jazerant.
Qian Feng Jia- Vanguard Division Armor, worn by sergeant rank:
Regular blue with blue piping and moon white lining.
Jiao Qi Jia- Cavalry Armor, worn by sergeant rank: made of cotton
in the color of the banner with which the soldier serves, with piping
of the same color, but otherwise like the Qian Feng Xiao Jia.
Hu Jun Xiao Mian Jia- Guard Division Lieutenant Cotton Armor:
White satin with white piping and blue silk lining and brass nail heads.
Jiao Qi Xaio Mian Jia- Cavalry Lieutenant Cotton Jia: Stone Blue
Satin, same as other Lieutenant ranks.
Qian Feng Mian Jia- Vanguard Division Cotton Armor: Same as Lieutenant’s
armor except of plain stone blue silk with blue cotton lining and white
Jiao Qi Mian Jia- Cavalry Cotton Armor: Silk in one of the Banner
colors with blue cotton lining and white bronze nail heads and no sleeves.
Lu Jiao Bing Mian Jia- Deer Horn Soldier Cotton Armor, worn by second
class privates in the Han Chun Qi: Silk in the Banner color with which
the soldier serves and blue cotton inside. This suit lack sleeves, the
shang fu and zhou dang.
Teng Pai Ying Hu Mao- Tigerman’s suit.
Wu Zhuang Yuan Zhou- Martial Exam National Champion Armor, awarded
only to this champion: This is the most unique armor listed in this
section. Unlike the ding jia listed above, this is a true armor and the
body of the suit extents to knee length like the Qing Mandarin outer robes.
The body armor is made of bronze scale with a red silk lining. It has
red and gold piping, iron plates on the sleeves and bronze edging at the
bottom of coat with a green hem below that.
Sozi Jia- Chain [mail] Armor: This armor was captured and worn
by Qing troops in there campaign to put down the rebellion in Xiyi so
it was placed last in the book of regulations. This armor is discribed
in detail above.
It is important to note that there are more distinctions between ranks
in both the BaQi and LuYing then are denoted by types of armor. These
further distinctions are made by the types of helmets worn by each individual
The usual components of a ding jia suit are: jia yi (sleeveless cuirass),
sleeves, hu yue (deep crescent-shaped gussets worn beneath the arms),
an angle length jia shang or shang fu (tasset) which is split down the
middle, semi-circular hu jian (pauldrons) a rectangular qian dang (sporran),
and a zhou dang (left pad) which attaches to the jia yi at waist level
where the sword and bow case are slung and a pair of high boots.
An additional round hu xin jing (protecting heart ‘mirror’) was sometimes
attached over the heart front and back. Reinforcing pieces are fastened
over the jacket by buttons, flat cords and buckles. Some suits also employed
vambraces fastened around the forearms.
Copyright, Scott M. Rodell
11 September 1997