Badge for third rank civil official with two peacocks, peonies, clouds, and lingzhi fungus

This Badge depicts two peacocks–the peacock being the insignia for a Third Rank Civil Official (and by some accounts was also used for fourth-rank officials in the Ming). One peacock soars in flight and the other stands on a rock near water. Peony blossoms, symbolic of prosperity and honor, and a sprig “lingzhi, the so-called fungus of immortality, fill the middle ground. Auspicious, colored clouds appear at the top and bottom borders. The original red color of the peonies and cloud bands has faded to a mute, brownish tone.

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, probably 16th century
Medium
Silk tapestry (kesi): woven silk and metal-wrapped threads
Dimensions
H x W (image): 26.8 x 30.8 cm (10 9/16 x 12 1/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1911.635
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Costume and Textile
Type

Tapestry: kesi

Keywords
China, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), peacock, peony, rank badge, rock, slit tapestry, tapestry
Provenance

To 1911
Loon Gu-sai, Beijing, to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Loon Gu-sai in 1911 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 741, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. According to Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), Loon Gu Sai was possibly Lunguzhai, a store in the antiques district of Liulichang.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Loon Gu Sai (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919

Description

This Badge depicts two peacocks--the peacock being the insignia for a Third Rank Civil Official (and by some accounts was also used for fourth-rank officials in the Ming). One peacock soars in flight and the other stands on a rock near water. Peony blossoms, symbolic of prosperity and honor, and a sprig "lingzhi, the so-called fungus of immortality, fill the middle ground. Auspicious, colored clouds appear at the top and bottom borders. The original red color of the peonies and cloud bands has faded to a mute, brownish tone.

Label

A pair of phoenixes are depicted in a landscape.  One phoenix is flying amidst auspicious clouds; the other is standing in front of peony blossoms, symbolic of prosperity and honor. A sprig of lingzhi, the fungus of immortality, appears in the lower left of the composition. The elegant blue color harmonizes with the overall stylized design.

Published References
  • Deborah Lerme Goodman. Fiber in the Nation's Capital. vol. 11, no. 6 Loveland, CO, November/December 1965. p. 49.
  • Fu Shen, with major contributions by Jan Stuart. Challenging the Past: The Paintings of Chang Dai-Chien. Exh. cat. Washington and Seattle. p. 88, fig. 63.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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