Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1644 Manchu beile

Subjectbeile prince as military commander
Culture: Jurchen / Manchu
Setting: early Qing empire, Manchuria/China 1593-1683

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Barfield 1992 p252-253, 258
"After he [Nurhachi] had united most of the [Jurchen] tribes he centralized power and, in 1615, declared himself khan ... [...]  In 1601, at the beginning of his conquests, Nurhachi established four banners (the Yellow, Red, White, and Blue) ... [...]  In his will Nurhachi [d. 1626] proposed that the government be run by a council of the eight beiles [princes], each in command of a banner." 

* Barfield 1992 p255
"Although raiding along the frontier had become endemic, the Jurchen attack on Fu-shun was the first major conflict between Nurhachi and the Ming.  The Ming responded by sending an expeditionary force of 80,000-90,000 troops to attack the Jurchens in 1619.  Nurhachi defeated this force at Sar Hu and its destruction precipitated a string of surrenders by cities in Liao-tung so that by 1621 all areas of the peninsula east of the Liao River were in Jurchen hands." 

* Barfield 1992 p260
"The official declaration of the Ch'ing Dynasty in 1636 marked both the greater ambition and organization of Hung Taiji's [Nurhachi's successor] government.  A year earlier he had proscribed the use of the terms 'Jurchen' and 'Chin' [dynasty].  Both appellations, he felt, harked back to the period of a small tribal people and a small dynasty.  The 'Great Ch'ing' of the newly renamed 'Manchu' people aimed at a higher goal." 


* Dickinson/Wrigglesworth 2000 p144
"The early Manchu leaders obtained their first court robes either directly from the Ming court itself or from raids on Chinese settlements.  The traditional Chinese cut of these garments was re-tailored to suit Manchu tastes.  In this way several important features of the patterns of Ming robes were carried over to Qing court dress.  Although dependent on supplies of fabric from China, which made it difficult to impose control over patterns, Abahai nevertheless decreed that nobody below the highest rank of Manchu prince could wear yellow robes or have their robes decorated with long.
​    "Court robes do not seem to have been widely available during the reign of the first Qing Emperor, Shunzhi.  Commemorative portraits of nobles and officials dating from this period often carry inscriptions that indicate that their splendid court robes were gifts from the throne.  In this way the court would have been able to keep a tight rein on the use of restricted colours and patterns.  The first laws relating specifically to the designs of court robes begin to appear during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, when the Qing dynasty had secured access to the silk producing areas of China.  The greater availability of fabrics brought with it the opportunity for misuse."

* Struve 1993 p51 (quoting Fr. Martino Martini ca. 1654)
"Their Garments are long Robes falling down to the very foot, but their sleeves are not so wide and large as the Chineses use; but rather such as are used in Polony [Poland] and Hungary, only with this difference, that they fashion the extremity of the Sleeve, ever like a Horse his Hoof.  At their Girdle there hangs on either side two Handkerchiefs to wipe their face and hands; besides, there hangs a a Knife for all necessary uses, with two Purses, in which they carry Tobacco, or such like Commodities."

* Anawalt 2007 p169
"In battle, the pre-conquest Manchu wore their usual riding coats, sometimes quilted and sometimes covered by a coat of protective chain mail ...."

* Anawalt 2007 p167
"Surcoats, or bufu, were almost always worn over court robes, auxiliary garments that added an additional layer of insulation and also changed the appearance of an ensemble.  Indeed, one was not properly dressed without a coat, hat and collar.  Official court surcoats displayed rank badges, or buzi, sewn on the front and back so as to indicate the wearer's status, an all-important matter in the strict social grading of the imperial court.  A plain surcoat without the buzi was worn domestically."

* Garrett 1998 p11
"The chao pao, or court robe, figured with dragons was the most important Qing robe and was worn for all momentous ceremonies and rituals at court.  Its wear was restricted to the highest in the land: members of the imperial family, nobility, and high-ranking mandarins.  Worn together with the pi ling collar, hat, girdle, and necklace, it formed the chao fu, literally 'court dress,' and was designated official formal wear." 

* Garrett 1998 p26
"Robes with five-clawed dragons known as long pao continued to be the prerogative of the emperor, the heir apparent, and high-ranking princes, although the former could bestow this honour on lesser officials if he wished." 


* Struve 1993 p51 (quoting Fr. Martino Martini ca. 1654)
"On their left side they hang Scymiters, but so as the point goes before, and the handle behind, and therefore when they fight they draw it out with the right hand behind them without holding the Scabbard with the other."




* Ho/Bronson 2004 p