VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Manchu Armour
ME1915.01.011
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The present armour has been chosen as just one example from the large collections of Chinese textiles that the museum houses. They are often stunning to look at with intricate designs and skilfully executed ornaments.

History of the Object
The history of the object before Mr. Thorild Wulff (1877-1917) in 1912 acquired the objects on behalf of the Museum of Ethnography is not known. In 1915. it was brought into the care of the Museum of Ethnography. This particular armour does not display any clear sign of having been worn.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Silk stuffed with cotton, metal 
Measurements
Not available 
Creator name
Not known 
Creator date
Not known, but 19th to perhaps very early 20th century 
Where it was made
China; Northern China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century - 20th Century; 19th Century or very early 20th century 
Function
Armour, or “uniform” for a Manchu military commander during the Qing (Manchu) dynasty. Originally designed for riding its cut in many ways reflect this, foremost in its open back. The sleeves have been given the shape of horseshoes revealing this equestrian background. The armour worn by military officials was adorned with studs and all kinds of exquisitely embroidered designs of almost three dimensional character showing dragons and other mythical animals, meant to indicate the wearer’s rank. It was equipped with shoulder plates, armpit plates and chest plates, which were attached to the armour with the help of buttons. Evidently the armour had little protective potential in modern warfare, though still worn in action. Its appearance was more to display military insignia and they appear to mirror traditional military interest in flair and concern with the display of rank and status. In some ways these late Qing dynasty armours border to Chinese theatrical costumes, though they might have been more inspired by the armours worn during the Tang dynasty, which were surely more of the protective kind. The costume also has a helmet. 
Acquisition
Acquired by Thorild Wulff (1877-1917) in 1912 during a few months (August to December) of collecting in China. Accessed by the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm in 1915. 
Copyright
© Museum op Ethnography, Stockholm 
Acknowledgements
Tony Sandin an d Ann Olsén of the Museum of Ethnography for providing and adjusting photographs. 
Owner
Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm 
Museum
Virtual Museum of the Chinese masterpieces 
Credit line
Text by Håkan Wahlquist, supported by entry on similar armour in Zhou, Xun & Gao Chunming: 500 years of Chinese Costumes Hong Kong 1988: 200-201 

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