Imperial guardsmen (shiwei 侍衛) were troops of a special unit protecting the emperor both in his residence and during inspection or hunting tours. The members of the imperial guard (shiweiying 侍衛營) were selected from among members of the three upper Banners who had particular military skills or from the other five Banners or even from the average Chinese population. Persons of the latter group were transferred to one of the upper three Banners as "voyagers" (xingzou 行走). The guard was headed by a commander (ling shiwei 領侍衛), who was also a Grand Minister (nei dachen 內大臣).
The Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911) used four ranks of imperial guardsmen (totaling 570 men) which were fixed in 1644.
|頭等侍衛 toudeng shiwei, 一等侍衛 yideng shiwei||3a||first-rank guardsman||60 men|
|二等侍衛 erdeng shiwei||4a||second-rank guardsman||150|
|三等侍衛 sandeng shiwei||5a||third-rank guardsman||270|
|藍翎侍衛 lanling shiwei||5-6||junior guardsman||90|
|四等侍衛 sideng shiwei||5b?||fourth-rank guardsman, only in the guard for the imperial clansmen (zongshi shiwei), for demoted sandeng shiwei|
The guardsmen were detached to protect different locations. Part of the guard was responsible for imperial clanspersons (zongshi shiwei 宗室侍衛), with a strength of 90 men. Depending on the location, the status of guardsmen was different. Palace guardsman (yuqian shiwei 御前侍衛) was the highest status, followed by guardsman at the Gate of Celestial Purity (Qianqingmen shiwei 乾淸門侍衛) and guardsman of the Vanguard Brigade (qianfeng shiwei 前鋒侍衛). Small numbers of guardsmen were responsible for the security of the Palace Stud (shangsiyuan 上駟院), the imperial hunting office (shangyu beiyong chu 尚虞備用處), the *personal guard (shanpuying 善撲營) or the *entertainment office (shibangchu 什榜處).