Fascinating depictions of different European nations as seen or rather imagined by the Chinese around 1769. These images can be found in Huang Qing Zhigong Tu (Collection of Portraits of Subordinate Peoples of the Qing Dynasty), which is an 18th-century ethnological study of Chinese tributary states, including Western nations that traded with the Qing Empire. Naturally I have been interested in the way that various European swords (smallswords, sabres) were depicted in this very nice costume book.

    Smallswords in the pictures from Huang Qing Zhigong Tu are drawn really well. It seems that an illustrator had an opportunity to observe those swords, probably worn by Western diplomats or other officials who visited the Qing court in the second part of the 18th century.


  Unfortunately sabre hilts are depicted in a really funny way. 

Hungarian sabre

Polish sabre

  It is very obvious that the sabre hilts are depicted with many small mistakes: only with partial crossguard, with very straight grip, without a knuckle-bow [4]; the illustrator had struggled to understand the real function of the two rings on the scabbard. The Polish sabre simple tucked in the belt, while in reality those rings are used to suspend a sabre from a swordbelt.

„typical” Hungarian [3]

  Wikimedia Commons, an online repository of free-use images, contains all images of that beautifully illustrated Chinese book. Enjoy!

   It is worth noting the bombastic title of the Chinese book: subordinate peoples of the Qing Dynasty. Fortunately European nations - including Hungarians, Polish people - have not been tributaries of the Qing Empire. 
  1. I have found the „Hussar” page of this Chinese book here. It is a FB-post by Zsolt Tokaji, sinologist and very active wikipedian.
  2. Hungarian text of the post: „A 18. század második felében összeállított, „A felséges mandzsu dinasztia adófizetőinek albuma” (Huang qing zhi gong tu) című műben a magyarokról.” Source: Zsolt Tokaji, sinologist. Beside the depiction of Hungarians there is a Hungarian translation of the Chinese text, which describes the customs of Hungary. 
  3. The Chinese text says that Hungarians look like Mongols. 😁
  4. A very typical feature of Hungarian, Polish sabres of the 18th century. 

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