The ‘Kao’ refers to armour worn by male and female generals in battle scenes. Made of several woven layers, they are supposed to mimic the stiff layers of actual Chinese armour.
In battle scenes, four flags are worn to symbolise the total preparedness for war. Besides being a reference to command flags awarded to generals in the past, they also serve to underscore the general’s authority.
The flags may be removed when the armour is worn off battle scenes but the characters are still in a state of war, such as a scene in a military camp.
Compared to their male counterparts, female ‘kaos’ are usually more ornate and have brighter colours, symbolic of feminine prowess.