Mandarin squares as a form of rank badge and decoration of Chinese robes

  • Katarzyna Zapolska (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Numerous museums in Poland and abroad as well as private collections include a great number of items called mandarin squares. These are woven or embroidered badges used as rank badges on robes belonging to civil officials, advisers and other dignitaries in the courts of the Chinese emperors. They were used from the beginning of the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644) to the end of the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911). A rigorous examination system was the way to receive a suitable civil or military rank. It was only after passing the examination that one could wear a given badge. The highest of them was the first rank and the lowest – the ninth. [...]