Antique Chinese Rank Badge, Origin: China – Antique Chinese rank badges, also known as Mandarin squares, were established during the Ming Dynasty and were in use in China from the fourteenth century to the early nineteenth century. These badges were worn by the nobility and by officials in the government of the Ming Dynasty to symbolize their high rank and status. The important men and dignitaries of the Ming and also Qing Dynasties were vehemently trained from a very young age for their esteemed roles. Rank badges were created in specialized workshops by highly trained guild artisans. They were also worn by such artists and craftsmen who belonged to professional guilds.
The rank badge is worn to completely cover the chest and the back. Civil badges show ranks from the first, which is state officials or the royal cabinet, to lower ranks of local secretaries and treasury. These badges display a variety of majestic birds, according to one’s rank. Military badges portray larger animals, most of which are mammals. The display of birds and other symbols of the Chinese Rank Badges were first developed and defined by regulations and afterward, by aesthetic choice.
This pair of antique Chinese rank badges convey that the owner was a fifth rank civil servant, as portrayed by the elegant silver pheasant with five tail feathers. In each badge, the pheasant is realistically depicted with accurate proportions and movement. The sky holds traditional Chinese symbols that include the shou, bian fu bats, and wan motifs to represent longevity, success, fortune, and prosperity. The pheasant is wonderfully illustrated looking up towards the sky, ready to take flight, towards these symbols and what they mean to Chinese culture.
The bold, dark border with gold embroidery utilizes both straight lines and curved vines that effortlessly flow. The ruyi-shaped spirals clouds are a rich cobalt blue. The sea waves are defined by diagonal lishui stripes. The waves, pheasant, and symbols are of a mixture of light colors that include ivory, pale blush and mauve, and celadon green. These light, muted colors work smoothly alongside the dark, bolder colors of blue, black, and gold.
Antique Chinese Rank Badges are prized for their uniqueness. As many rank badges were destroyed during the early nineteenth century due to the Communist revolution, the ones that still exist today are especially rare and precious. These rare pieces of art add prestige and sophistication to any space. This pair of antique Chinese rank badges are lavishly detailed and a beautiful piece showcasing character, culture, and history.
This spectacular pair of antique Chinese rank badges depicts beautifully detailed silver pheasants, which are the traditional bird used to represent civil officials and the wives of officials who have attained the fifth-rank distinction. The right-facing birds of this antique Chinese rank badge are set over a series of polychromatic seawaves and diagonal lishui stripes that are rendered in a lively combination of muted mauve, celadon green and ivory. Dramatic cobalt blue clouds with ruyi-shaped spirals and billowing contours embellish the obsidian-black background. Shou symbols, bian fu bats and auspicious wan motifs executed in gilded floss decorate the ornate cloud-covered background. Lavish borders featuring gilded ruyi-shaped motifs, fretwork details and scrolling vines complete the ornate composition of this (fifth-rank) antique Chinese rank badge or buzi.