Suzhou Embroidery and Rank Patches of Officials’ Gowns in Qing and Ming Dynasties

Suzhou has been the silk textile center in China since the Ming Dynasty (1638 – 1662). The imperial court at that time set up a special textile bureau in Suzhou with two divisions in charge of embroidery and dyeing. In the government-run shops, the embroidery workers made decorative pieces for imperial carriages and clothes, and there were official designs for the clothes of the emperors, empresses, and officials and officers. For example, the dukes, marquises and emperors’ sons-in-law wore clothes embroidered with kylin and other divine animals. 

Top-ranking officials wore gowns with white cranes; second-rank officials, golden pheasants; third-rank officials, peacocks; fourth-rank officials, wild geese; fifth-rank officials, silver pheasants; sixth-rank officials, egrets; seventh-rank officials, mandarin ducks; eighth-rank officials, orioles; and ninth-rank officials, quail.
 
Top-rank and second-rank military officers wore gowns embroidered with lions; third-and-fourth-rank officers, tigers and leopards; fifth-rank officers, bears; sixth-and-seventh-rank officers, young tigers; eighth-rank officers, rhinoceroses; and ninth-rank officers, seahorses.
 
All of these designs were embroidered on the rank patches (buzi in Chinese pronunciation) on the front and back of the officials’ gowns.
 
suzhou embroidery rank patch first rank
suzhou embroidery rank patch second rank
suzhou embroidery rank patch third rank
suzhou embroidery rank patch fourth rank
suzhou embroidery rank patch fifth rank
suzhou embroidery buzi sixth rank
suzhou embroidery buzi seventh rank
suzhou embroidery buzi eighth rank
suzhou embroidery buzi ninth rank
 
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