‘ULTIMATE POWER DRESSING’ CHINESE IMPERIAL COSTUME AND INSIGNIA OF RANK

With 12 Ranks within the Imperial family and 9 Ranks for both Civil (Mandarin) and Military Officials this lecture explains the hierarchy and significance of emblems – such as the Dragon as an emblem of Imperial association together with the birds and animals that signified the ranks of the civil and military officials – together with the textiles and dress used to signify rank.  The lecture gives a fascinating insight into the ‘Ultimate Power Dressing’ of the Qing and Ming Dynasties.

This lecture provides a comprehensive insight into how highly decorative and expertly created costume and textiles were utilised at the Chinese Imperial Court to denote the rank and status of the wearer. Insignia and symbols, defined within extensive regulations, identified where the person resided in the 12 Ranks within the Imperial family or the 9 Ranks which existed for both Civil (Mandarin) and Military Officials. Particular consideration will be given to the utilisation of the Dragon as an emblem of Imperial association together with the birds and animals that signified the ranks of the civil and military officials. In addition to textiles there will be consideration of dress accessories that were utilised to determine rank. The focus will be on the Qing Dynasty but there will be contrasts with examples of Imperial costume from the earlier Ming Dynasty. The images used will be predominantly drawn from our collection. Where practical a range of textiles illustrated in the talk can be displayed.



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