A Closer Look at the Qing Emperor's Grand Inspection Armor

See what the emperor wore during large-scale military exercises to thoroughly inspect the equipment and capabilities of the military

By The Palace Museum

The Qianlong Emperor in Ceremonial Armor on Horseback by Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766, Chinese name Lang Shining)The Palace Museum

Grand Inspection Helmet
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Grand Inspection Helmet with Gold Inlays and Pearl Embellishments

Gold filigree rising dragon crest
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Gold filigree rising dragon crest with large Eastern pearl: Produced exclusively in the ancestral homeland of the Qing Manchu rulers and with a low yield, such pearl became the most valued jewels.

Twenty-four strips of black sable
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Twenty-four strips of black sable with red gold-foiled satin lining mounted on a crest rod with coiled dragon design

The crest base
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The crest base is functional yet ornamental, decorated with gold filigree cloud and dragon designs.

Forty-four Sanskrit characters
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Forty-four Sanskrit characters: the characters are sacred syllables that make up a form of ritual speech, called dharani, used in recitation and related to the veneration of Avalokiteśvara.

Ear and neck coverings
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Ear and neck coverings of bright yellow satin embroidered with polychrome floral design.

The material of the armor
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The armor is made of bright yellow satin, blue plain-weave silk lining, black silk velvet edging and gilt copper studs in a regular pattern.

"Rocks rising above waves" pattern
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"Rocks rising above waves" pattern, an auspicious symbol in traditional Chinese design implying that mountains and rivers under one unified rule will last through the ages.

Spaulders
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Padded Silk Spaulders

Underarm Guards
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Underarm Guards

The forearm guards
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The forearm guards are braided with gold-foiled threads.

"front guard"
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Trapezoidal abdominal guard, also known as "front guard".

The long skirt-like cuisses
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The long skirt-like cuisses serve to protect the legs and consist of left and right halves. Fastened to the waist with cords, these pieces are fortified at intervals with rows of gilt strips.

Quiver sheath
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Satin grand inspection quiver sheath, paired with a bow sheath worn on the opposite side of the body.

The boots
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Bright yellow satin boots with cloud designs

Credits: Story

Chief Consultant: Yan Yong
Translation by Adam J. Ensign

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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