This gentleman is a sort of appendage to a man in power. Some half-dozen of them generally precede a mandarin of `rank` when he goes in procession, but more especially when he attends a tribunal of justice. Their peculiar province seems to be that of keeping off the crowd. The feathers they wear in their tall conical hats are from three to six feet in length, and are apparently the tail feathers of a peculiar species of pheasant, which is represented as very scarce. Some of them wear the tail feathers of the argus pheasant.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese, by William Alexander Published 1814