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Pair of children’s civil rank badges, fourth rank (goose)

circa 1860


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Pair of children’s civil rank badges, fourth rank (goose) by
Alternate image of Pair of children’s civil rank badges, fourth rank (goose) by
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    circa 1860
    Media category
    Materials used
    embroidered silk on black satin background

    a - split badge, 15.5 x 16.5 cm

    b - badge, 15.5 x 16.4 cm

    Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Dr David Ling 2011
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    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.

    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.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication