Anonymous: Portrait of the Imperial Bodyguard Zhanyinbao (18th century)

(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA)

Another fine portrait from the Qing Dynasty. The man on the painting is Zhanyinbao, a member of the Imperial Guards Brigade which was responsible for guarding the Qing emperor, it's family and the  Forbidden City in Beijing. The painting is part of a set of officials and warriors which were commissioned by the Qianlong emperor (reign 1736–1795) for the Hall of Imperial Brilliance. In this pavilion in the Forbidden City the emperor received tribute offerings and entertained foreign emissaries. The text above the painting (left in Manchu, right in Chinese) lauds Zhanyinbao's valor in combating nomadic rebels in the desert wastes of Central Asia:

Barehanded he rode the giant whale,
Capturing Weinuo in battle.
The bandits' heads were strung together
The length of his long lance.
With both hands he held open the declaration of war
All the way to Balikun [in Xinjiang Province].
Without [even pausing] to comb his horse's mane,
He returned and reported to his commander.

Painting from the 18th century.

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