Rank Badge from Nineteenth Century China

Late 19h century embroidered rank panel from China. Late 19h century embroidered rank panel from China. Courtesy Textile Research Centre, Leiden, acc. no. TRC 2010.0139a.

The Textile Research Centre in Leiden houses an embroidered rank badge or panel, from late nineteenth century China. It measures 31 x 29 cm and is made of a silk ground material and silk and metal thread embroidery, with applied coral beads.

These panels or badges were applied to the front and back of a civil servant's gown. The illustrated bird is a silver pheasant. The five tail feathers indicate the wearer of the badge was a fifth rank official, although probably this badge was worn by his wife (see below).

Such badges, called buzi (補子) or Mandarin squares in the Western market, were indeed not restricted to men; also the wives of the officials were allowed the wear them for official occasions, although slightly altered. The red sun disk, generally thought to represent the Emperor, would be placed on the upper left hand corner for the man's  badge; that of his wife on the opposite side.

The badges used to come in sets of two. The one used for the front of the gown would always be split in half, since the gown would open at the centre front (see the example of a set of badges illustrated here; for the digital source of which, click here)

See also a rank badge from seventeenth century Korea and a rank badge from nineteenth century Korea.

Source: KAO, Phyllis (2014). Collecting Chinese Rank Badges. download here.

Digital source (retrieved 31 October 2016).

TRC online catalogue (retrieved 30 October 2016).


Last modified on Thursday, 05 January 2017 16:55

Related items