Antique Imperial Chinese Mandarin Badge Civil Official Rank 5 w Silver Pheasant
Brand Poppy's Vintage Clothing
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This is an antique Mandarin badge worn by a civil official of the fifth rank, members of which were either a deputy supervisor of instruction at the Hanlin Academy, an assistant instructor or librarian at either the Guozijian or Hanlin Academy, an assistant director of a board or court or, finally, a circuit censor, whose responsibility was to be the eyes and ears of the Emperor in reporting cases of abuse or corruption.
Mandarin badges, worn by both civilian officials and military to denote rank, were introduced in 1391 during the Ming Dynasty. During the Qing Period (1644-1912), they were worn as squares, both on the front and back of a garment. Each rank was identified by the use of a different bird or animal. The fifth rank badge of a civil official is distinguished by the use of the Silver Pheasant - the silver pheasant being identified by its five tail feathers, not necessarily by its color. This badge is embroidered in gold and copper colored metallic threads as well as with two tones of blue silk, charcoal silk and accented with red thread. The sun disk, which appears at the upper right, is made with coral beads. It should be noted that wives of officials also wore corresponding badges, but the sun disk on theirs would be placed at the upper left, to mirror their husbands’ badge, when sitting next to them. Attaining rank in Imperial China was possible only through the passing of a series of difficult examinations, but successful candidates were rewarded with prestigious appointments.
This badge measures 11” by 12” and is in very good condition - it has been very well preserved. The only observable “defect” is a discernible fold down the middle that could simply be a function of the framing, very minor and shouldn’t bother anyone at all. Luckily, many of these badges were preserved by Western diplomats’ wives, who treasured them for their beautiful embroidered work, sending them back to the West as keepsakes. The piece is framed in a silver painted faux bamboo wood frame.
This is a very nice example, and, I believe, an earlier one, due to the distinctive style of the bird, quite unusual compared to other examples that I have seen. Beautiful display item.....