Chinese history is a good place to start for reestablishing traditional Chinese swordsmanship. The pattern for my gambeson came from the Banner Army in the Qing Dynasty. Our weapons are from this time as well. Here is a brief summary of the Banner Army.
CHINESE HISTORY: THE EIGHT BANNERS
The banner military system began with Nurhaci in the early 17th Century of chinese history. It was at its best throughout the 17th Century, declining in the 18th, and taken over by modern military methods in the 19th Century.
THE BANNER COLOURS
The Banner colours had their own flags. Each company was made up of about 300 households. There were approximately 25 companies under each banner. These companies were stationed in different locations and if a fighting force was needed, each garrison contributed 300 men.
Chinese History we know that the three top Banners were the Pure Yellow, Bordered Yellow and Pure White. The top three belonged especially to the Emporer. The other five were loyal to particular Manchu ruling princes, also known as the Iron Cap Princes.
There are still many very good examples of the Banner Army armour. Some of them are pictured on this page. Usually the parade armour is the best preserved. It is more decorative, worn by officials, and characterised by taller helmets with high plume holders. Just try wearing one of those on a horse while wrapping your Dao overhead for a slice at the enemy. Your arm would bump into the spire on the way round. The armour was dingjia - nail armour. It had steel plates riveted together inside the layers of cloth. The lower part, protection for the legs was called a tasset.
Picture below: Blue, Bordered Yellow and Bordered White Banners, courtesy of Katie Kellert, Flickr.
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