Object Title

Armour (ding jia)

Armour (ding jia)

Date

1801-1830

Object Number

XXVIA.166

Provenance

Purchased at auction Christies, South Kensington, 1 May 1987. Formerly owned by a theatrical costumier.

Physical Description

Of brigandine type, comprising a sleeveless coat, a pair of shoulder defences, a pair of gussets under the arms, a groin defence, and deep skirts.


The armour is construced from panels of dark blue cotton, with linings of mid-blue cotton. Each panel is bordered with an edginging of black velvet overlapping a strip of pink silk damasked in gold, with a dark blue cord sewn down the centre. All the outside is decorated in floral patterns embroidered in blue, yellow and green silk otlined in gold-bound thread.

The coat is in the form of a broad waistcoat with a notch at the lower front. It opens down the front, where it is fastened by five buttons, and at either side, where it is fastened by a button at the hip and at the armpitby engaging loops from the rear of the coat. Inside the coat are riveted tinned iron plates. At the right front there are eight rows of plates, from the top containing two, three, three, three, four, five, five and three plates respectively. All these plates are broad and rectangular except for the outside plates of rows five and six, which are cut diagonally to accommodate the arm, and row one, the inner plate of which is cut diagonally, the outer being a narrow rectangle. The overlapping edges of each plate are slightly angled. Each plate is rivetted to the fabric by iron rivets, with low, rounded external heads, and washers of green paper. The top row is secured by two rivets at the inner edge; the inner column is secured by rivets at the centre and centre of the upper edge; the outer plates of rows two to four and the cropped plates are secured by two rivets at the top and centre of the inside edge; the rest of the plates are secured by three rivets at the centre of the upper edge, inner top corner, and centre of the inner edge. The left front also has eight rows of plates, the first four with two plates,the lower four with three, four, five and three respectively. The plates match those of the right front, except that the outside plates of rows five to seven have slightly cropped outer corners. The plates within each row overlap towards the centre, and the rows overlap upwards. The rear panel of the coat has nine rows of plates; the upper row has two plates at either side (matching those at the front, rows two to four include five plates, row five has seven plates and rows six to nine include nine plates. The outside top corners of the outer plates of rows six and seven are cropped. Each plate in the centre row is attached to the coat by two rivets, at the centre and top; those of the top row and the cropped plates of rows six and seven by two rivets at the inside edge; the remainder by three, at the centre top, upper inside corner, and centre of the inside edge. The plates overlap towards the centre, and the rows overlap upwards. the coat is fitted with a leather strap at the front and rear of each shoulder for the attachment of the shoulder defences; two cloth loops at either side of the chest at the front and formerly two more in corresponding positions at the rear, for the attachment of the gussets under the arms; a cloth loop at either side of the centre at the front, for the attachment of the groin defence, and an extra loop at the left of the waist.

Component parts

Inscriptions and Marks

None.

Associations

Places China

Notes

For cavalry use. Three identical armours appeared in the Christies sale, of which this is in the best condition. A closely comparable example is in the Field Museum, Chicago, no. 118344, from 'Sri Ngan' (B. Laufer, 'Chinese Clay Figures, part 1, Prolegomena on the history of defensive armour', Chicago, 1914, pl. xxxiv and pp. 284-5).