Rank and Style: Power Dressing in Imperial China
For generations China’s rulers wore emblems on their robes that identified their place in a complex system of rank and privilege. This exhibition explores how this imperial hierarchy was maintained through the bestowing and wearing of exquisitely woven and embroidered ‘rank badges,’ as they have become known in the West. Identity and status, so carefully crafted and preserved among China’s elite, were expressed primarily through garments and their decoration, making them virtually a second skin – so intimately connected to one’s person that even in death wearing the appropriate badge assured a continuation of earthly status. The exhibition is rich in a wide variety of rank and festival badges worn by the emperor, members of the imperial household, and civil and military officials.
Rank and Style: Power Dressing in Imperial China presents for the first time in the United States selections from the Chris Hall Collection of Hong Kong. These rare and exquisite rank badges date from 1500 to the mid-19th century, with many from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Numerous badges feature woven or embroidered mythical creatures such as the dragon and phoenix, while others depict rabbits, cranes and tigers. Additional pieces in the exhibition are drawn from the collections of the Pacific Asia Museum and local collections.
Dale Gluckman, Guest Curator