Chinese armor in the Musée de l'Armée (Paris, 2015)

The Musée de l'Armée in Paris (France) hast two sets of Chinese armor which will be presented here.

A Chinese imperial armor.   This is a suit of bright yellow satin armor which is embroidered with design of plychrome clouds and golden dragons.  Further it is formed with gold and silver beads.  It is a uniform and armor at the same time.  The gilded helmet is decorated with precious stones with a hair tuft on its top. In the book "Oriental Armour" , Robinson (1995, plate XXIV) shows and describes this armor as "Armor of an emperor with no plates in breast, back and thigh defenses taken by the French from the Summer Palace in 1861".  This is the same armor which is on exhibition in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris, France.

For a very similar armor see the book "Armaments and Military Provisions: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum", Hong Kong, The Commercial Press, 2008.  The book (2008, p. 57, cat. 53) shows a very simlar armor and describes it as:

"A suit of bright yellow satin armour embroidered with design of plychrome clouds and golden dragons worn by Emperor Kangxi for viewing troops, Kangxi period, Qing Dynasty; Armour: length of upper clothes: 75,5 cm, Length of lower skirt: 71 cm; Helmet: Overall height:33,5cm; Diameter: 22 cm; Qing Court Collection"

 

For another similar armor with similar dragon design on the fabric but with the beige/brown color see "Armaments and Military Provisions: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum", 2008, p. 59, cat. 55.  The armor is described as:

 

"Armour and helmet with dragon and cloud design formed with gold and silver beads; Qianlong period, Qing Dynasty; Armour: Length of upper clothes: 73 cm, length of lower skirt: 61 cm; Helmet: overall height: 33,5 cm; Diameter: 22 cm; Qing Court Collection".

Earlier Chinese armor was lamellar armor, but later it changed to the shapes depicted in this article.  Robinson (1995, pp. 146-147) states:

 

"Most of the Chinese armour met with today comes under the category of what was termed in Europe "brigandine", and it will be classified here.  This is armour of fabric with plates secured on the inside - sometimes with an internal lining, but frequently without.  The plates are attached with round-headed rivets (ting), usually gilt, which are visible on the outer fabric and no doubt were favoured for the richness they afforded to even a garment of plain cotton stuff. . . As suggested above, this form of armour may have been devised in China through the habit of military men wearing rich coats over their practical but not particularly beautiful lamellar armor.  The President of the Board of War under the Emperor T'aitsung of the T'ang Dynasty was a certain Ma Sei, who died in A.D. 796. He devised a combination of armour and uniform (k'ai i, armour clothing) to be made in three different lengths, and men so equippped were able to move freely and even run in comfort, The Ch'u hiu ki, compiled by Su Kien in the early part of the eight century, gives the names of some parts of the armour derived from the clothing, such as the skirt of the armour - shang ("clothes for the lower part of the body").  The inner side of an armour, lei, and the coat of an armor, kia i, together are termed kao.  The general term for clothing, i-shang, is here applied to armour, and the word kao clearly indicates that a textile robe enveloped the entire armour. . . "

Robinson (1995, pp. 148-149) adds:

 

"Brigandines may be looked upon as a simplification of lamellar in so far as the rectangular plates are of similar size, but do not require the tedious process of drilling up to fourteen holes in each one. Three or, more often, wto holes in one edge were all that was required. The plates were laid in rows overlapping the new beneath and each other on one side by about one-third of their width. This was sometimes increased to half the plates' width to produce a double thickness throughout.  Iron [or steel], copper and leather were employed for these plates . . .".

Further, Robinson (1995, p. 149) comments:

 

"Armours dating from the K'ien-lung period (1736-95) at Chicago, amongst the earliest known in the Western hemisphere, have portions which are studded, but not backed by plates.  This was the beginning of the end for armour in China and shows that it was fast becoming a uniform and little else".

Qianlong Emperor in ceremonial armor on horseback

A Chinese military court official armor.  It is formed with gilded beads.  It is a uniform and armor at the same time.  It has a round breast protection made of steel, steel thigh protectors and also steel back protectors.  It has a gilded helmet with a hair tuft on its top. In the book "Oriental Armour" Robinson (1995, plate XXIV) shows and describes this armor as "Armor of a military court official taken from the summer palace in 1861. The breast, back and thigh defenses contain steel plates while that in Plate XXIIA [shown above] contains none".  This is the same armor which is on exhibition in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris, France.

For a similar armor in blue color and round round chest protection made of steel and thigh and back protectors of steel see "Armaments and Military Provisions: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum", 2008, p. 56, cat. 52, which is described as:

 

"Brocade helmet and armour with herringbon design; Shunzhi period, Qing Dynasty; Armour: Length of upper clothes: 73 cm, length of lower skirt: 71 cm; Helmet: overall height: 33 cm; Diameter: 22 cm; Qing Court Collection".

 

For another similar armor in beige color and round round chest protection made of steel see "Armaments and Military Provisions: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum", 2008, p. 60, cat. 56, which is described as:

 

"Cotton-padded armour and helmet of gold-thread-woven satin with swastika design, decorated with gilt copper nails, worn by Emperor Qianlong. Qianlong period, Qing Dynasty; Armour: Length of upper clothes: 67 cm; Length of lower skirt: 96 cm; Helmet: Height: 35 cm; Diameter: 23 cm; Qing Court Collection".

 

A similar armor was worn by General Mingliyang (Chin. Mingliang) on a portrait from the Qing Dynasty dated to 1776, "Bilder für die Halle des Purpurglanzes: Chinesische Offiziersporträts und Schlachtenkupfer der Ära Qianlong (1736-1795)", Herbert Butz, 2003, pp. 40-41.


For another similar armor in beige color studded with nailheads and a round chest protection made of steel see "Armaments and Military Provisions: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum", 2008, p. 63, cat. 59, which is described as:

 

"Armour and helmet of gold-thread-woven satin with herringbone design, appliquéd with iron foils, Qing Dynasty; Armour: Length of upper clothes: 78 cm; Length of lower skirt: 88 cm; Helmet: Height: 32 cm; Diameter: 22 cm; Qing Court Collection".

For another similar armor in beige color studded with nailheads and a round round chest protection made of steel see "Armaments and Military Provisions: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum", 2008, p. 61, cat. 57, which is described as:

 

"Cotton-padded armour and helmet of gold-thread-woven satin with design of swastika , decorated with gilt copper nails, Qing Dynasty; Armour: Length of upper clothes: 68 cm; Length of lower skirt: 96 cm; Helmet: Height: 32 cm; Diameter: 22 cm; Qing Court Collection".


For asimilar armor in yellow color and a round round chest protection made of steel see "Armaments and Military Provisions: The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum", 2008, p. 62, cat. 58, which is described as:

 

"Cotton-padded armour of bright yellow satin embroidered with gold dragon design, Qing Dynasty; Length of upper clothes: 78 cm; Length of lower skirt: 78 cm; Qing Court Collection".

 

Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani

Qing dynasty general Su Yuanchun wearing a similar armor, 1896.