A military Mandarine (or Nobleman) of China. Portrait of Van-ta-zhin 1805.

China, Military, costume, Mandarine, Nobleman, Van-ta-zhin,
A military Mandarine of China.


A military Mandarine (or Nobleman) of China.

This officer (a colleague of Chow-ta-zhin, who was a mandarine of the civil department) was appointed by the Emperor to attend the British Embassy, from the time of its arrival in the gulf of Pe-tchi-li, till its departure from Canton.

Van-ta-zhin was a man of a bold, generous, and amiable character, and possessed of qualifications eminently suited to his profession, being well skilled in the use of the bow, and in the management of the sabre. For services performed in the wars of Tibet, he wore appended from his cap, a peacock’s feather, as an extraordinary mark of favor from his sovereign, besides a red globe of coral which distinguished his rank.

He is represented in his usual, or undress, consisting of a short loose jacket of fine cotton, and an under vest of embroidered silk; from his girdle hang suspended his handkerchief, his knife and chopsticks *) in a case, and purses for tobacco: on his thumbs are two broad rings of agate, for the purpose of drawing the bowstring. The heads of the arrows, which are thrust into the quiver, are variously pointed, as barbed, lozenge-headed, 8cc. His boots are of satin, with thick soles of paper: these are always worn by the mandarines and superior Chinese.

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*) Quoit-zau, or Chopsticks, are used in China instead of forks; they are two round slender sticks of ivory, ebony, &c. and used in the manner of pincers

Source: The costume of China, illustrated in forty-eight coloured engravings by William Alexander (1767-1816). London, William Miller, Albemarle Street, 1805. Plates also published in Bazin de Malpière’s La Chine; moeurs, usages, costumes. 2 v. Paris, 1824-27.


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