Thanks for the link to this paper. Very interesting and apparently well-researched, and one I hadn't seen before.
Some small comments:
Furthermore, the situation was the same in the
Qing army, which despite having abandoned the use of armour already in the eighteenth century, continued
to use similar equipment - although without the actual metal armour plates - as a kind of ceremonial officer’s
I've assumed this for a while as well but had to adjust when I obtained a photocopy of military regulations of the early 19th century that still described troops being supplied with iron helmets and armor. Ceremonial armor was common for ceremonies and the Grand Reviews in safe environments but in the actual field they apparently held on to real armor much longer than was previously assumed.
It was then designed to imitiate regular armour but consisted of mere padded silk or, at best, silk studded
with gilt rivet-heads.
Where the rivet heads were indeed meant to simulate lamellar armor, the "mere padded silk" is probably a highly underestimated type of armor that was capable of reasonable degrees of protection against sword blows and arrow hits. It sounds odd, but an arrow that can easily pierce armor has a hard time penetrating a soft teddybear. Yes, we tried.
Suits of armour must be sized according to the man who wears it, and I know of no time or place when an armoury for real
soldiers disregarded this fact of life.
I personally think that this is far more relevant to plate armor than it is to types of lamellar and chain mail that could probably be mass produced in a number of "confection" sizes.
Some weapons were manufactured in Tibet, but Fukang’an had noted that the Qing army in Tibet had a
considerable surplus in the form of especially bows and arrows brought from China.
This is very interesting. Tibetan bows are smaller than the Qing variety, especially in the ears. Tibetan arrows are also made differently and of different materials. To not get into any technical details, a tibetan bow could not as effectively shoot a Qing arrow as it could its own arrows, and vice versa. It is known that the Tibetans sawed off the ears of Manchu bows, apparently to make them "faster". Reading this, I think the reason would rather be to make them suitable of their style of use.
Of course, none of my comments above destabilize the main point made in this article. It is interesting to have learned more about the context in which Waddell made his observations.
On the railroad / guardless dpa'dam
connection, for what it means, I can say that all examples I've seen had come to China before the railroad was finished.