Étiquettes

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Imperial Duke’s insignia, China, Qianlong (1736 – 1795), Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), ‘kesi‘ [woven silk],  26.0 x 27.3 cm.Gift of Judith and Ken Rutherford 2000, 189.2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney

In the Ming and Qing dynasties the aristocracy as well as civil and military officials wore rank-defining badges on the front and back of their robes. The front-facing dragon would have been worn by a Prince of the Blood, who had been granted the right to wear the five-clawed creature by the emperor. The rich motifs include the rocks, the waves and the cloud representing the earth, the sea and the sky symbolising the universe, and the peony, bat and lingzhi (magical mushroom) symbolising nobility and longevity.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, January 2012

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Civil rank badge, first rank (crane insignia), China, Qianlong (1736 – 1795), Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), silk, split tapestry weave (kesi), 29.0 x 29.5 cm.Gift of Dr David Ling 2011. Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program, 233.2011. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney

Rank badges were insignia badges worn by court officials to signify their status in the civil or military sphere. Two badges were attached to the costume, one on the back the other on the front which was split to allow the garment to be buttoned up at the front.

The badges were first introduced during the Ming period in 1391. From the Ming (1368-1644) to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) the styles of the badges changed dependent on the tastes of the times – not necessarily only when the court dress regulations were published in 1652 and revised by Qianlong emperor in 1759. The best indicator of the time period of a badge are background elements such as water and cloud designs, as these could indicate what was fashionable at the time.

Civil rankings were based on the passing of demanding official examinations. Civil badges consisted of nine ranks each represented by a different bird, with only a couple of changes of bird types over the two dynasties. Military examinations were based on physical feats rather than literary and the rank badges are rarer. For example, towards the overturn of the Qing, military rank badges in particular were burnt to conceal identification. Military badges consisted of animals representing rank. During the Qing rank badges were generally worn by an official, his wife or wives and unmarried sons and daughters (Garrett 37)

Kesi (‘cut silk’) badges are a rarer and more valuable textile, whose complexities lie in the weaving technique. Schuyler Cammann noted that compared to the Ming period, many of the early Qing badges were embroidered. This could be due to 2 reasons: the fall of Yangzhou in 1645 and other cities which had silk weaving industries-resulting in the high cost of silk; and that woven silk appeared to be monopolised by the imperial classes with restricted use to nobles. (Cammann p. 97).

This civil rank badge of kesi silk tapestry depicts a crane, which is the first and highest rank. The badge is split indicating that it was worn at the front of the garment. The bird is standing on a rock amongst turbulent waves and surrounded by auspicious symbols such as bats, ‘ruyi’ sceptre, clouds, flowers and floral motifs. This piece was originally woven into a coat. The couched border is a later addition.

LITERATURE: Schuyler Cammann, ‘The development of the Mandarin square’, ‘Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies’, vol.8, no.2 (Aug. 1944), pp. 71-130
Valery M. Garrett, ‘Mandarin Squares’, Oxford University Press, 1990.
Valery Garrett, ‘Chinese dress from the Qing dynasty to the present’, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2007.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, June 2011

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Military rank badge, second rank (lion insignia), China, Qianlong (1736 – 1795), Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), late 18th century, silk, split tapestry weave (kesi),27.5 x 29.0 cm.Gift of Dr David Ling 2011. Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program, 232.2011. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney

Rank badges were insignia badges worn by court officials to signify their status in the civil or military sphere. Two badges were attached to the costume, one on the back the other on the front which was split to allow the garment to be buttoned up at the front.

The badges were first introduced during the Ming period in 1391. From the Ming (1368-1644) to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) the styles of the badges changed dependent on the tastes of the times – not necessarily only when the court dress regulations were published in 1652 and revised by Qianlong emperor in 1759. The best indicator of the time period of a badge are background elements such as water and cloud designs, as these could indicate what was fashionable at the time.

Civil rankings were based on the passing of demanding official examinations. Civil badges consisted of nine ranks each represented by a different bird, with only a couple of changes of bird types over the two dynasties. Military examinations were based on physical feats rather than literary and the rank badges are rarer. For example, towards the overturn of the Qing, military rank badges in particular were burnt to conceal identification. Military badges consisted of animals representing rank. During the Qing rank badges were generally worn by an official, his wife or wives and unmarried sons and daughters (Garrett 37)

Kesi (‘cut silk’) badges are a rarer and more valuable textile, whose complexities lie in the weaving technique. Schuyler Cammann noted that compared to the Ming period, many of the early Qing badges were embroidered. This could be due to 2 reasons: the fall of Yangzhou in 1645 and other cities which had silk weaving industries-resulting in the high cost of silk; and that woven silk appeared to be monopolised by the imperial classes with restricted use to nobles. (Cammann p. 97).

The symbol of the lion in this badge represents the insignia worn by a military official of the 2nd rank. A rare woven kesi tapestry consisting of a landscape woven in gold thread mixed with blue silk thread.

LITERATURE: Schuyler Cammann, ‘The development of the Mandarin square’, ‘Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies’, vol.8, no.2 (Aug. 1944), pp. 71-130
Valery M. Garrett, ‘Mandarin Squares’, Oxford University Press, 1990.
Valery Garrett, ‘Chinese dress from the Qing dynasty to the present’, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2007.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, June 2011

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Insignia badge with silver pheasant design for the wife of a fifth-rank civil official, China, Yongzheng (1723 – 1735), Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), embroidery with gold and coloured threads, and peacock feathers on silk, 22.0 x 24.0 cm. Gift of Judith and Ken Rutherford 2000, 127.2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney

Mandarin squares were worn as part of the costume denoting one’s rank and status in the bureaucratic hierarchy of China from 1391 to 1911, ie, most of the Ming dynasty and all of the Qing dynasty. Civil officials wore various birds to denote their rank and military officials wore various animals. The silver pheasant is the symbol of the fifth civil rank. In the early Qing period, it typically had three serrated-edged tail feathers, later it had five (as in this piece). While the silver pheasant seems to be the most common badge found today because fully 25% of the mandarins failed to reach the upper ranks of the civil service and stalled at fifth rank, badges of the early Qing period of Yongzheng are rare. This badge was for a female, Qing regulations specifically authorizing the wives to wear a square denoting their husband’s rank. Although the emperor had to personally authorize a mandarin to wear a rank, each mandarin had to procure his own squares – a fact that resulted in more varied and interesting designs since each were individual.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 17 May 2000

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Civil rank badge, seventh rank (mandarin duck insignia), circa 1700-circa 1750China, Yongzheng (1723 – 1735), Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), embroidered silk, 22.5 x 24.0 cm. Gift of Dr David Ling 2011. Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program, 231.2011. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney

Rank badges were insignia badges worn by court officials to signify their status in the civil or military sphere. Two badges were attached to the costume, one on the back the other on the front which was split to allow the garment to be buttoned up at the front.

The badges were first introduced during the Ming period in 1391. From the Ming (1368-1644) to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) the styles of the badges changed dependent on the tastes of the times – not necessarily only when the court dress regulations were published in 1652 and revised by Qianlong emperor in 1759. The best indicator of the time period of a badge are background elements such as water and cloud designs, as these could indicate what was fashionable at the time.

Civil rankings were based on the passing of demanding official examinations. Civil badges consisted of nine ranks each represented by a different bird, with only a couple of changes of bird types over the two dynasties. Military examinations were based on physical feats rather than literary and the rank badges are rarer. For example, towards the overturn of the Qing, military rank badges in particular were burnt to conceal identification. Military badges consisted of animals representing rank. During the Qing rank badges were generally worn by an official, his wife or wives and unmarried sons and daughters (Garrett 37).

This badge depicts a rare mandarin duck insignia, worn by a civil official of the 7th rank. The duck is shown about to alight from a rock which is surrounded by waves. It turns to look at the sun which is the symbol of the emperor. Included in the scene is a mountain, pine tree and a pavilion – the home of the Immortals. This complex badge, worn at the front due to the fact that it is split, is a significant example of a rank badge of the 18th century.

LITERATURE: Schuyler Cammann, ‘The development of the Mandarin square’, ‘Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies », vol.8, no.2 (Aug. 1944), pp. 71-130.
Valery M. Garrett, ‘Mandarin Squares’, Oxford University Press, 1990.
Valery Garrett, ‘Chinese dress from the Qing dynasty to the present’, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2007.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, June 2011

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Military rank badge, for the wife of a third rank (leopard insignia), China, Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), circa 1860, silk, split tapestry weave (kesi), 28.5 x 29.5 cm. Gift of Dr David Ling 2011. Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program, 237.2011. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney

Rank badges were insignia badges worn by court officials to signify their status in the civil or military sphere. Two badges were attached to the costume, one on the back the other on the front which was split to allow the garment to be buttoned up at the front.

The badges were first introduced during the Ming period in 1391. From the Ming (1368-1644) to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) the styles of the badges changed dependent on the tastes of the times – not necessarily only when the court dress regulations were published in 1652 and revised by Qianlong emperor in 1759. The best indicator of the time period of a badge are background elements such as water and cloud designs, as these could indicate what was fashionable at the time.

Civil rankings were based on the passing of demanding official examinations. Civil badges consisted of nine ranks each represented by a different bird, with only a couple of changes of bird types over the two dynasties. Military examinations were based on physical feats rather than literary and the rank badges are rarer. For example, towards the overturn of the Qing, military rank badges in particular were burnt to conceal identification. Military badges consisted of animals representing rank. During the Qing rank badges were generally worn by an official, his wife or wives and unmarried sons and daughters (Garrett 37)

Kesi (‘cut silk’) badges are a rarer and more valuable textile, whose complexities lie in the weaving technique. Schuyler Cammann noted that compared to the Ming period, many of the early Qing badges were embroidered. This could be due to 2 reasons: the fall of Yangzhou in 1645 and other cities which had silk weaving industries-resulting in the high cost of silk; and that woven silk appeared to be monopolised by the imperial classes with restricted use to nobles. (Cammann p. 97).

The 3rd rank military badge depicts a leopard in kesi weave. The leopard faces the sun (emperor) and is surrounded by a number of auspicious elements standing on a hill surrounded by waves and cloud elements.

LITERATURE: Schuyler Cammann, ‘The development of the Mandarin square’, ‘Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies’, vol.8, no.2 (Aug. 1944), pp. 71-130
Valery M. Garrett, ‘Mandarin Squares’, Oxford University Press, 1990.
Valery Garrett, ‘Chinese dress from the Qing dynasty to the present’, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2007

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, June 2011

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Pair of children’s civil rank badges, fourth rank (goose), China, Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), circa 1860, embroidered silk on black satin background; a – split badge; 15.5 x 16.5 cm; b – badge; 15.5 x 16.4 cm.Gift of Dr David Ling 2011. Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program, 236.2011.a-b. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney

Rank badges were insignia badges worn by court officials to signify their status in the civil or military sphere. Two badges were attached to the costume, one on the back the other on the front which was split to allow the garment to be buttoned up at the front.

The badges were first introduced during the Ming period in 1391. From the Ming (1368-1644) to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) the styles of the badges changed dependent on the tastes of the times – not necessarily only when the court dress regulations were published in 1652 and revised by Qianlong emperor in 1759. The best indicator of the time period of a badge are background elements such as water and cloud designs, as these could indicate what was fashionable at the time.

Civil rankings were based on the passing of demanding official examinations. Civil badges consisted of nine ranks each represented by a different bird, with only a couple of changes of bird types over the two dynasties. Military examinations were based on physical feats rather than literary and the rank badges are rarer. For example, towards the overturn of the Qing, military rank badges in particular were burnt to conceal identification. Military badges consisted of animals representing rank. During the Qing rank badges were generally worn by an official, his wife or wives and unmarried sons and daughters (Garrett 37).

Children could wear the costume of the father but not the rank badge as a rule. However this was often ignored as can be seen in the fact that these 2 rank badges have the insignia of a goose for the children of 4th rank civil servants.

LITERATURE: Schuyler Cammann, ‘The development of the Mandarin square’, ‘Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies’, vol.8, no.2 (Aug. 1944), pp. 71-130
Valery M. Garrett, ‘Mandarin Squares’, Oxford University Press, 1990.
Valery Garrett, ‘Chinese dress from the Qing dynasty to the present’, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2007