UNIT. Late Ming Imperial Guard 锦衣卫連鐶甲
JYC TOY - 1/6TH SCALE MING PALACE GUARD
Note the bright silk robe with elaborate motifs underneath the chainmail shirt,
these would be the eponymous "brocade robes" with dragon-snakes (boa)
Jinyiwei, literally meaning brocade-clad guard, was the name given to the imperial military guards responsible for the emperor’s personal security, as well as serving as his secret police, throughout the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) in China. The figure depicted represent a battlefield agent/ imperial bodyguard encased in late Ming (1600-1644) chainmail armor.
Jinyiwei were marked by their impressive physical appearance, as they were the cream of the crop of fighters. Their uniforms were made of rich brocade, hence the name. To signify their high status, top ranking Jinyiwei wore a robe with the pattern of a boa constrictor, an animal similar to the dragon – a symbol of the emperors.
The cast of the head for the figurine is molded after the legendary Chinese actor 张丰毅
Zhang Fengyi who played Cao Cao in "Red Cliff," Jinke in the "Emperor and the Assassin,"
and one of the main characters in"Farewell my Concubine."
In the case of the Japanese invasions of Korea between 1592 and 1598, in which the Ming army successfully defended Korea from Japan’s aggression, the Jinyiwei served as secret agents gathering vast amount of intelligence about Japan.
The special badge worn by the Jinyiwei to designate their
status as an agent or a bodyguard of the Ming emperor
Domestically, they had an infamous reputation for torturing suspects in illegal ways. As they had direct access to the emperor, they inspired fear among court officials. However, in most cases, they only targeted people serving the imperial court. Common people usually were left off their radar.
For a more detailed analysis of the Jinyiwei's founding and chaotic history, you can find them in my blog.
Late Ming Chainmail armor, usually reserved for mounted troops, though the Chinese
had been aware of Chainmail, it was never adopted in mass numbers until the mid- late
Ming dynasty and the early Qing dynasty. By the 1620s, Ming armor in general
would have appeared nearly identical to the armor of their Manchu Qing foes. Consisting
mostly of brigandine, and chainmail shirts such as these~ heavier armor like the
scaled cuirass would have been mostly phased out by this point.
Late Ming helmet, 17th century.
Late Ming (1550-1600s) armor for generals and important guards. Consisting of a conical cavalry
helmet topped with rank signifying banners and a scale cuirass to protect the torso. As with the majority of
Chinese troops, they are versatile in equipment- wielding both the bow, saber, and lance.
Ming military governor of a northern province, in late Ming armor, armed with a Jian and a bow,
and encased in scaled cuirass. He sits upon either a commander's throne with the fur of a lion.
Common Chinese name for mail armour is Suo Zi Jia (鎖子甲), but Ming Chinese had another name for this armour — Gang Si Lian Huan Jia (鋼絲連鐶甲, lit. 'Steel wire linked chain armour'). According to early Qing Dynasty dictionary Zheng Zi Tong (《正字通》), Chinese mail utilise 4-in-1 weave pattern, similar to European mail.
As stated above, the Jinyiwei are marked by their extremely flamboyant silk robes, which served to make them intimidating in official functions. A full ranked imperial agent would be marked with the motif of the Boa Constrictor/ dragon.
A group of Jinyiwei serving as imperial bodyguards on the Emperor's grand tour to his
An agent in "work" uniform, and another in his palace uniform.
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