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2018/22/1 Hat finials (9), rank insignia, metal / glass / porcelain / stone, maker unknown, China c. 1790-1875. Click to enlarge.

Hat finials (9), maker unknown, China, c 1790-1875

    Hats are an important accessory in Chinese dress and an official was never seen without his hat outside his private quarters. Hat finials were worn by the nine ranks of high ranking Chinese officials during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) to differentiate between the ranks, a practice governed by regulation.

    Finials of this type were introduced in 1727 to be worn on less formal occasions (The type of finials reserved for formal occasions were tall, more eleborate and bejewelled). They were known as 'knobs' or 'buttons' and were fixed to the apex of the crown of the hat by a metal screw which passed through a hole in the hat. The colours and material from which the 'sphere' was made denoted the rank of the wearer. Glass became acceptable from the 18th century in place of semi-precious stones both to save expense and because glass itself was highly prized.

    The ranks denoted by the finials are as follows (according to revised regulation in 1727);
    First rank: round jewel of red clear Peking glass
    Second rank: oval jewel of pink porcelain glass
    Third rank: oval jewel of clear blue Peking glass
    Fourth rank: round jewel of lapis lazuli
    Fifth rank: round jewel of clear colourless Peking glass
    Sixth rank: round jewel of opaque white Peking glass
    Seventh rank: Top round jewel of gilt copper
    Eight rank: round jewel of gilt copper
    Ninth rank: oval jewel of silver (Circa 1790, After 1800 Ninth rank used a gilt copper jewel)

    Min-Jung Kim
    Curator
    June, 2017

    Summary

    Object No.

    2018/22/1

    Object Statement

    Hat finials (9), rank insignia, metal / glass / porcelain / stone, maker unknown, China c. 1790-1875

    Physical Description

    Full set of nine ranks hat knobs for Chinese court officials.

    The ranks denoted the finials are as follows (according to revised regulation in 1727);
    First rank: round jewel of red clear Peking glass. Glit cast floral base. The knob was converted to a seal with the marks of A-B on the base.
    Second rank: oval jewel of pink porcelain glass, Gilt flared base wtih filigree work, Circa 1825
    Third rank: oval jewel of clear blue Peking glass, Gilt cast base with two shou (longevity) symbols and two bats.
    Fourth rank: round jewel of lapis lazuli, Gilt cast base with two shou symbols and two bats
    Fifth rank: round jewel of clear colourless Peking glass, Gilt cast base with two shou (longevity) symbols and two bats.
    Sixth rank: round jewel of opaque white Peking glass, Gilt floral base.
    Seventh rank: Top round jewel of gilt copper, Gilt cast and worked base with two shou (longevity) symbols and tow bats.
    Eight rank: round jewel of gilt copper with incised shou symbols on opposite sides. Flared layered base of peacock eye design.
    Ninth rank: oval jewel of silver. Cast and pierced silver base with two shou symbols and two bats (Circa 1790, After 1800 Ninth rank used a gilt copper jewel),

    Dimensions

    Height

    68 mm

    Depth

    35 mm

    History

    Notes

    The third and seventh rank hat knobs were purchased by the donor in Hong Kong in 1988 from C. Y. Tse, Sheraton Hotel, Central, The Island, Hong Kong. His shop now is in Hollywood Road.


    The second, forth and sixth rank hat knobs were purchased by the donor in Sydney in 2004. According to the donor, the owner of the collection was born in China of European Heritage. The parents met in China and married in the district of the Consul General, Sir Everard Duncan Home Fraser KCMG at Shanghai. The mother had moved to China to be with her brother. The father worked on the railways in various places, Shanghai, Dalian, Harbin and Tientsin. The donor purchased them from the daughter in law of this family.

    Source

    Credit Line

    Gift of Judith and Ken Rutherford, 2018

    Acquisition Date

    12 March 2018

    Cite this Object

    Harvard

    Hat finials (9), maker unknown, China, c 1790-1875 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 February 2021, <https://ma.as/549894>

    Wikipedia

    {{cite web |url=https://ma.as/549894 |title=Hat finials (9), maker unknown, China, c 1790-1875 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 February 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}