Imperial Army Uniforms

From 1910 the soldiers of the Imperial Chinese Army were dressed in a new Westernised uniform which had winter and summer versions. Winter uniforms were in dark blue with branch colour facings on the peaked cap, shoulder bars and sleeve stripes. Trousers were quite baggy, and tucked into white gaiters which fastened with small buttons down the side and had a strap that went under the shoe.

Rank was shown by the number of black stripes around the cap and the number of branch colour stripes on the arm of the jacket - one for a private, two for a corporal and three for a sergeant. Cap badges were a gold disc with a dragon design for ordinary soldiers. For officers there was a stone in the centre; these stones came in three colours - red for high ranks, blue for middle ranks and white for lower ranks. Officers' winter service uniforms had a stripe in branch colour around the lower sleeve; above this one, two or three black stripes indicated rank, and above these one, two or three gold discs showed the grade of rank. The officers' caps had no branch colours around the band but had between one and three black stripes round the band; the grade of the rank was denoted by one, two or three vertical stripes at the side.

Officers' parade uniforms consisted of a dark blue frock coat with an Austrian knot on the sleeve in gold or silver (gold for combat units infantry, cavalry and so on, and silver for administration and support staff). Officers' collars had a design of a dragon with a stone in its mouth on each side, with the colour of the stone matching the colour of the

Russian Imperial Army Uniform

BELOW LEFT Marshal Tsao-lun, head of the Chihli military clique in 1923. He wears full dress uniform of light blue with gold collar, cuffs and epaulettes. The awards on his left breast are all national awards issued by the central government, while the clutch of medals on the right breast are locally issued awards. Warlords would design their own awards and hand them out to their officers and friendly fellow Warlords like trinkets. (Gene Christian)

BELOW So-called 'government troops' search a village for bandits in 1923; a more 'rag tag' bunch would be hard to find. Most of them wear straw sandals instead of shoes and all of them wear cotton peaked caps. Notice that a few of them carry umbrellas for shelter from the sun and rain, and there are at least three different types of rifle in use in this one small unit. (Hulton Getty)

stone on the cap badge. Around the top and front of the collar was gold or silver braid, with the number of bands between one and three indicating the rank; the nine grades of ranks on collars went from one line of braid with a white stone in the dragon's mouth for the rank of lieutenant to three lines of braid with a red stone in the dragon's mouth for a general.

Officers' caps had a number of gold or silver stripes around the band and gold stripes vertically at the side to indicate rank and grade respectively. Epaulettes were woven gold or silver cord; rank was shown by the edging of the cord, lower ranks had red edging and gold and silver centres, middle ranks had gold or silver edging and red centres and the highest ranks had solid gold and silver cord. Grades of ranks were shown by one, two or three gold or silver buttons on top of the epaulettes.

Summer uniforms were in a light khaki cotton in the same style as the winter uniform but in a lighter material. Puttees would sometimes replace the gaiters in the summer uniform, especially for active service. For lower ranking soldiers the ranks on the summer uniforms were shown by black chevrons on the upper right arm.

The Imperial Guard Division was formed in 1908 and recruited exclusively from Manchus until 1910, when recruits were accepted from all parts of China. Guards wore a different uniform from the rest of the army: it was grey, with the same branch colours and red piping around the top of the peaked cap. Officers wore shoulder boards of woven silver cord similar to those on the dress uniform. According to the 1910 regulations, the gendarmerie, or military police, wore a distinct uniform in blue-grey with red facings and a hat which was a grey shako with red band and a black leather peak.

Both winter and summer uniforms were worn by Imperialist troops during the fighting in 1911/12, and the majority of soldiers had been issued with the 1910 regulation uniform by the time fighting broke out.

The Provincial and Green Standard troops, who were the second line and militia soldiers of the Imperial Army, wore old and obsolete uniforms. Many of them still had turbans, as worn by the army in the 19th century. These units were soon to be disbanded so no new supplies of uniform or equipment would have been issued to them.

Chinese Uniforms 19th Century

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