A rare partial suit of ceremonial armor with dragon decoration Late Qing dynasty
Lot 8252
A rare partial suit of ceremonial armor with dragon decoration
Late Qing dynasty
Sold for US$ 62,500 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Property from the William G. Thompson (1896-1978) Collection
A rare partial suit of ceremonial armor with dragon decoration
Late Qing dynasty
Including a jacket with two detachable sleeves with horseshoe cuffs, paired shoulder guards and underarm gussets, a center flap and a left flap at the lower edge of the jacket, and a wraparound, divided skirt that resembles chaps; all made of cotton-padded creamy-white silk satin, the surfaces mounted with evenly spaced gilt metal studs, each section with either ties or gilt metal ball-and-loop toggle buttons for attachment, similarly embroidered with silk and gold-couched threads depicting vigorous five-clawed dragons amid cloud scrolls chasing flaming pearls above trident peaks rising from waves, trimmed with deep blue silk and gilt thread borders; each of the shoulder capes lined with metal plates reticulated with dragons, the underarm gussets with braided, tasseled ribbons.
29in (73.5cm) height of jacket, 28in (71.2cm) height of apron, 21 3/4in (55.4cm) length of sleeve


  • According to Valery Garrett's Chinese Dress from the Qing Dynasty to the Present, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2007, p. 27, although the triennial ceremonial reviews of troops by the emperors 'did not take place on a regular basis after the reign of the Qianlong Emperor, ceremonial suits of armor remained a part of the imperial wardrobe and continued to be made, if never worn.'

    Although no other identical example seems to have been published, the present ceremonial armor may have been made for a nobleman or a high-ranking official which, according to Ms. Garrett, 'was similar in style to that worn by the emperor' in terms of being 'embroidered with dragons and studded all over, with more dragons around the borders and the bottom of the skirt'. Ms. Garrett adds that this type of ceremonial armor was 'made of satin padded with cotton, trimmed and lined with blue silk and covered with gilt studs.'

    The topic of ceremonial armor from the Qing dynasty is also taken up by Evelyn Rawski and Jessica Rawson (editor), China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 2005, fig. 51, fig. 62, pp. 156-162, and by Robert D. Jacobsen, Imperial Silks: Ch'ing Dynasty Textiles in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Chicago, 2000, Vol.1, pp. 341-349.
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