UNIT: Tang Elite Tiger Crown Cavalry 虎冠骑

For the full article about Tiger Crowns and elite Tiger Cavalry, check it out here.

From the 500s to the 980s, successive Chinese dynasties have employed a distinctive 虎冠 "tiger crown" that marked some of their most elite warriors on the battlefield, sometimes the item would be sewn out of colorful fabrics with gilded rims and lacquered features that imitated a grimacing tiger while other times real tiger skin (claws and head) would be used to give the wearer a ferocious aspect.

These wings usually gathered the bravest and the highest quality of fighting troops and were tasked with 1. dangerous long distance scouting missions, 2. performing as shock cavalry troops maximized to turn the tide of battle at a decisive moment. For this purpose, they were saddled with the best horses, they were armed with a variety of weapons which allowed them to effectively respond to most situations as well as exploiting each vigorously. Aside from the standard cavalry lance and pikes, nearly all were also armed with the bows, sabers, halberds, and by the late Tang and the Five Dynasty and Ten Kingdom Period  (907-979CE) even grenades and bomb slings.

Chanfron and barding (horse armor) of a 4th-7th century Chinese cataphract, 
note the ostentatious plume Jisheng 寄生, lit. "parasite" on the horse's hip. 

In terms of fashion: by 979, most correlating troops have eschewed the gaudy tiger helmets, however the idea of vanguard shock cavalries designated as "tigers" would remain long after the disappearance of the tiger crown.

Sancai tiger crown warrior, Henan region. Tang dynasty

The 虎翼, or "Tiger Wing," or "Tiger Wedges" usually denoting an elite cohort of shock troops that became a fixture of nearly every dynasty that succeeded the Zhou all the way until the abolition of the imperial system in 1912. Even during the Korean War, there were still divisions denoted as "Tiger Wings" (although by then mostly referring to motorized divisions) deployed in the conflict.

For more about the Tang military, please check out my
other Tang dynasty pieces.

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Der said…
Wow! These Tiger Guards remind me of Roman legionary standard bearers who would wear Lion headdresses or elite Aztec Jaguar warriors.
boomminecraft8 said…
Can I know how this information is come from? Is there any way to prove that they are reliable sources? I need it for my project to write why this is reliable. Not particular this post, but for others too.
boomminecraft8 said…
Especially for https://dragonsarmory.blogspot.hk/2017/01/tang-military-overview.html
Posted on 2017 Jan on Tang Military. I want to get the source of

"... such that by the end of the dynasty in 907, there were grenades, gas grenades, shrapnel bomb tribuchets, land mines, fire lances, ..."

"a Tang general who helped to destroy the Gokturk Empire- a typical campaign army (cavalry + infantry) would be made up of a force of around 10% crossbowmen, 10% archers, 20% cavalry and the remainder as melee infantry. Each infantry soldier was expected to carry a saber, lance, a bow and armor.
Old Beast said…
"Not particular this post, but for others too." I think this is a bit vague, I assume you meant for the 2 points above correct? ^
Old Beast said…
For the quote about the Tang General, its largely from the Tang general Li Jing's campaign records and reports, others are supplemented by the Old Book of Tang and the New Book of Tang (Old Book of Tang was heavily criticized by the writers of the new book so there are some contradictions) others by Sima Guang's Zhizhitongjian.

Old Book of Tang, vol. 67
Many of the strategies mentioned here that Tang forces employed against Xiao Xi and Fu Gongshi were of disputed of origin -- as the biographies of Li Xiaogong in the Old Book of Tang and the New Book of Tang credited them to Li Xiaogong, while the biographies of Li Jing in those same works credited them to Li Jing. Compare Old Book of Tang, vol. 60 (biographies of Emperor Gaozu's collateral relatives)

(biographies of Li Jing and Li Shiji) and New Book of Tang, vol. 93
The Zizhi Tongjian generally credited these strategies to Li Jing. See Zizhi Tongjian, vols. 189, 190.
Old Beast said…
As for "... such that by the end of the dynasty in 907, there were grenades, gas grenades, shrapnel bomb tribuchets, land mines, fire lances, ..."

Well, the fire lance and the grenade (both gas as well as combustible ones were depicted in the late 9th century cave paintings in Dunhuang) used by the demons that flanked a Matriya Buddha. Shrapnel bombs appeared around this time as well, not conclusively before the fall of the Tang, but definitely began to appear in the 70+ years of civil war of the Five Kingdoms and Ten Dynasties after the fall of the Tang. Quite a simple construction really, simply place many ceramic pieces and fit them covered in oil paper- in the even of the detonation the iron cask and the shrapnel will tear through armors apart.

Hand powered trebuchets were already invented by the Chinese way back in the Three Kingdoms period, some would suggest even earlier in the eastern Han period. To fit their loads with bombs was a logical step that was quickly incorporated. Again- many Chinese polities of the Five Kingdoms and Ten Dynasties period used them. And they had something even more devastating in their armamen. For instance, in a battle on January 23, 971, massive arrow fire (rockets) from Song dynasty crossbowmen decimated the war elephant corps of the Southern Han army. This defeat not only marked the eventual submission of the Southern Han to the Song dynasty, but also the last instance where a war elephant corps was employed as a regular division within a Chinese army.

^ Schafer, Edward H. "War Elephants in Ancient and Medieval China," Oriens (Volume 10, Number 2, 1957): 289–291.
boomminecraft8 said…
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