Late Qing Dynasty Military Badge

Such pieces of embroidery were often sewn onto the robes of both civilian and military professionals to denote the rank they held. Birds were commonly represented in the insignia of civilians, whereas a variety of wild animals, often fierce ones to represent courage, decorated those who held a certain rank in the military. Also interesting is that if the badge contained an image of the sun, it was  generally meant to be worn by a woman - sometimes the spouse of a ranked official. However, the same symbol appeared on the badges of a special group of operatives within the regime called the censors. They were recruited from among top ranking civilians to investigate the workings of bureaucracy and deter corruption. This particular piece here shows a biao, which is a panther-like creature representing the sixth rank in the military. The blue bats around the border were meant to bring the wearer good luck and happiness, as the word for bat sounded similar to the word for happiness.

 

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