Chinese Rank Badges
Symbols of Power, Wealth, and Intellect in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
David Hugus
July 2021
280 pages
9.5" x 12", color illustrations throughout
HK$480 (Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, and Taiwan only)
US$65 (Other Countries)
Hardback 978-962-7956-45-7

Both utilitarian objects and examples of textile design of wondrous beauty, Chinese rank badges were developed in the Ming and Qing dynasties to indicate the bearer’s station in the civil or military bureaucracies. Employing birds for civil officials’ insignia and four-legged animals—some of them fantastical—for the military, these rank badges additionally contain motifs springing from Chinese culture and religion. David Hugus, who has made an intense study of these textiles and shared his knowledge with lectures in Hong Kong, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles, centers his narrative on their chronology and iconography and accompanies it with beautiful color illustrations. He begins with the earliest dynastic period—the reign of the Hongwu emperor during the Ming—and brings us to the end of the imperial period, and beyond, to the present day, with the occasional production of ersatz badges. His analyses of the style and iconography of the badges provide the reader with the tools to recognize the circumstances of individual badge design and to develop a basis for connoisseurship. In addition to the survey of rank insignia from the Ming through the Qing dynasties are accompanying appendices that provide the general reader with a historical and cultural context for rank badge creation.

David Hugus started collecting Chinese rank badges in 1991. After being introduced to two articles by Professor Schuyler Cammann on the subject, he was hooked. Over the past thirty years, he has spent his spare time reading about Chinese history and culture and attending Asian art shows to augment his collection. He has enjoyed discussing his passion for rank badges with audiences in Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland. Now retired, he currently lives in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife of over fifty years.