Each regiment of the Manchu Banner army was wearing uniforms in the colors of their banner. They were made in the Imperial workshops in Hangzhou and when not worn were stored at the Western Gate of the Forbidden City.
Ceremonial suits of armor of the present type were worn by high-ranking officers during ceremonies when the Emperor reviewed his armies to assess their strength and techniques of cavalry, archery and combat. Although the purpose of this uniform was purely ceremonial, its construction is based on armour used for protection in battle. Made of satin padded with cotton, trimmed and lined with blue silk, they were covered with gilt studs and embroidered with dragon roundels. The sleeves are separate from the tunic body and attached by means of silk straps and buckless, thus allowing the wearer a greater range of arm movement. The exposed areas around the sleeves were then covered with shoulder guards. The legs were covered with aprons, again for protection, but the seat was left free to allow the wearer to mount a horse. The front square panel here is made of silk, but would have been made of metal in an actual combat armour.
Compare with two almost identical ceremonial suits of armor, one kept in the Museuo Oriental de Valladoid, the other in John E. Vollmer, Decoding Dragons: Status garments in Ch'ing Dynasty China, University of Oregon Museum of Art, 1983, frontispiece; another similar suit of armor was sold at Sotheby's New York, 23 March 2004, lot 554 and a further one at Sotheby's London, 13 November 2002, lot 17.