The Upper Three Banners or Sān shàng qí (三上旗) consisted of the Plain Yellow Banner, Bordered Yellow Banner, and Plain White Banner. They had a special status and were under the direct control of the emperor.

Plain Yellow Banner

The Plain Yellow Banner

Bordered Yellow Banner

The Bordered Yellow Banner

Bordered Yellow Banner

The Plain White Banner


Brigades within the Upper Three Banners

1. Imperial Guard
Nèi Hùjūn Yíng (內護軍營) in Chinese.

Consisting of:

  • Captain-General, Hùjūn Tǒnglǐng (護軍統領)
  • Colonel, Hùjūn Cānlǐng (護軍參領)
  • Lieutenant Colonel,  Hùjūn Cānlǐng (副護軍參領)
  • Lieutenant, Hùjūn Xiào (護軍校)
  • Sub-Lieutenant, Wěi shǔ Hùjūn Xiào (委署護軍校)
  • Guard, Hùjūn (護軍)

2. Imperial Valiant Cavalry Battalion
Nèi Xiāoqíyíng (內驍騎營) in Chinese.

3. Imperial Vanguard Battalion
Nèi Qiánfēngyíng (內前鋒營) in Chinese.

4. Yuanmingyuan Inner Banner Imperial Guards
Yuánmíngyuán Nèiqí Hùjūnyíng (圓明園內旗護軍營) in Chinese.

5. Yuanmingyuan Eight Banners Imperial Guards
Yuánmíngyuán Bāqí Hùjūnyíng (圓明園內旗護軍營) in Chinese.

6. Nanyuan Imperial Guards
Nányuàn Hùwèiyíng (南院護衛營) in Chinese.

Consisting of:

  • 1 Commander, Zǒngguǎn (總管)
  • 8 Captains, Fángyù (防禦)
  • 10 Corporals, Lǐng cuī (領崔)
  • 90 Privates, Xiāoqí (驍騎)

7. Office of the Imperial Bodyguard
Lǐng Shìwèi Fǔ (領侍衛府) or  Shìwèi Chù (侍衛處)

Controls the affairs of the Qīnjūnyíng (親軍營) composed of Shìwèi Qīnjūn (侍衛親軍) whose task it is to escort the emperor, perform certain palace duties, and protect the emperor's person.

Consisting of:

  • 6 Chamberlains of the Imperial Bodyguard, Lǐng Shìwèi Nèi Dàchén (領侍衛內大臣)
    (2 Of which are selected as Chamberlains of the Rearguard, Hòuhù Dàchén (後扈大臣))
  • 6 Senior Assistant Chamberlains of the Imperial Bodyguard, Nèi Dàchén (內大臣)
  • An unspecified amount of Junior Assistant Chamberlains of the Imperial Bodyguard, Sàn Zhū Dàchén (㪚秼大臣), often a hereditary title.

10 of the Senior and Junior Assistants are appointed Chamberlains of the Vanguard, Qiányǐn Dàchén (前引大臣).

7.1 Imperial Bodyguards
Shìwèi Qīnjūn (侍衛親軍) or Nèihù Jūnyíng (內護軍營) in Chinese.
Gocika Bayara in Manchu.

Consisting of:

  • 480 Senior Bodyguards, Shìwèi (侍衛) or Huālíng Shìwèi (花翎侍衛), wearing the peacock feather.
  •  60 of which are First Class, Yī Děng (一等)
  •  150 of which are Second Class, Èr Děng (二等)
  •  270 of which are Third Class, Sān Děng (三等) and Fourth Class,  Děng (四等)
  •  90 Junior Bodyguards, Lánlíng Shìwèi (藍翎侍衛), wearing the blue feather.

7.2 Clansmen Corps of the Imperial Bodyguard
Zōngshì Shìwèi (宗室侍衛) or Sān Qí Zōngshì Shìwèi (三旗宗室侍衛) in Chinese.

Consisting of

  • 150 Sān Qí Shìwèi (三旗侍衛).
  •  9 of which are First Class, Yī Děng (一等)
  •  18 of which are Second Class, Èr Děng (二等)
  •  63 of which are Third Class, Sān Děng (三等) and Fourth Class,  Děng (四等)

(Of the above, indefinite numbers are selected as Guards of the Antechamber, Yùqián Shìwèi (御前侍衛) and Guards of the Qianqing Gate, Qiánqīngmén Shìwèi (前清門侍衛)).

  •  60 Imperial Bodyguards wearing the Leopard's tail, Bàowěi Bān Shìwèi (豹尾班侍衛).

7.2 Chinese Corps of the Imperial Bodyguard
Divided in First Class, Yī Děng (一等), Second Class, Èr Děng (二等) and Third Class, Sān Děng (三等).

When on duty, divided into bān () or "reliefs" which in turn are divided into () or "wings".

  • Each relief is lead by a Commander of a Relief, Shìwèi Bānlǐng (侍衛班領).
  • Below him is a Second in Command of a Relief, Shǔ Qīnjūn Xiào (署親軍校).
  • For every 10 privates, there is an Imperial Guard Sergeant, Shìwèi Shénzhǎng (侍衛什長).

7.4 The Emperor's Personal Detachment of the Bodyguards

Consisting of

  • 77 Lieutenants, Qīnjūn Xiào (親軍校).
  • 70 Sub-Lieutenants, Shǔ Qīnjūn Xiào (署親軍校).
  • 7 Sergeants Wěi Shǔ Qīnjūn Xiào (委署親軍校).
  • 1756 Privates, Qīnjūn (親軍).

1. H.S. Brunnert and V.V. Hagelstrom; Present Day Political Organization of China. Published 1911. Pages 25-27.

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With a golden damascened lock of the Indo-Portuguese type.


Very good example with a finely carved warrior scene.


Probably of Southern origin, with a straight blade and flaring tip.


In the style of northern work of the 16th and 17th centuries


Southern Chinese officer style saber with later inscription H.Hunt 1876.


A standard pattern Qing military saber, but with the rare addition of a label in Manchu.