These sets usually show two opposing Chinese armies.
As stated by Hyde (1694), the Chinese idea of commanders was not that of “kings”. There were, in may export sets for Europe, replaced by two generals. They had to be accompanied by two figures which apparel either on both sides or on one side as military persons. This seems, at first sight, to be an uncertainty as to their function. Possibly, the insignia of military and civil officials were also borne by their women. It seems that the artists initiated, in the ornamented clothes of the generals and their adjoint persons, real textile covered suits of armour and their textile insignia (lions heads). Frequently, the arming of the pieces corresponds to the traditional and very old inventory of Chinese weapons : helboards, swords, lances, sabres, spears, arch and arrows and eventually forked spears. This corresponds to the habit to use rural impediments as weapons perhaps as practised in the region where the chess sets were produced. This aspect can be regarded as an authentic Chinese component in these export sets.
The Europeans introduced their form of chess to China in the late 18th century, mainly for commercial reasons. The British East India Company, Dutch East India Company, and other trading groups from France, Portugal, and the newly formed United States of America, all came and established trading posts at the ports of Macau, Hong Kong, Canton, and Shanghai.