Northern Dragons: Transformations of Manchu Male Identity during the Early and Mid-Qing (1644-1795)

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. East Asian Studies Dept.


Ankeney Weitz

Second Advisor

Elizabeth LaCouture



In the past, scholarship on the ethnic and masculine identities of Qing emperors has primarily focused on social, political, and legal institutions. While material culture has also served as an analytical tool, no comprehensive study of imperial male garments and their significance in the creation of identity exists. I examine the clothing of the first four Qing emperors in an effort to understand how these men negotiated their role as inheritors of a nomadic legacy and an ever-expanding and diverse empire. Through these case studies, I find that the identity creations and transformations (or “self-visions”) that each emperor crafted for himself resulted in a rich and complex imperial identity by the end of the Qianlong era. Through carefully selecting and fusing different cultural ideals, the early Qing emperors created unique identities for themselves that ultimately transformed the image of imperial male strength in China.


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


Qing, Manchu, China, material culture, ethnicity, masculinity

Multimedia URL

This document is not available online