Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1820 Qing zhīxiàn
Subject: 知縣 zhīxiàn mandarin as local magistrate
Culture: Sino-Manchurian
Setting: late Qing empire, China 19thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

​* Feuerwerker 1976 p61
​"Cases under the penal law in the first instance were tried by the local magistrate, who could pronounce and execute sentence only in minor cases, that is, if the penalty were no more than beating.  In all more serious cases the magistrate could make only provisional findings and refer the cases to the prefect who in turn transmitted them to the provincial judicial commissioner (an-ch'a shih).  Judgments made by the judicial commissioner required the concurrence of the governor and governor-general.  Cases of homicide and those in which the possible punishment was more severe than imprisonment were required to be referred by the province to the Board of Punishments which exercised final jurisdiction in all matters except cases punishable by death.  These were decided by a body known collectively as the Three High Courts (the Grand Court of Revision, and representatives from the Censorate and the Board of Punishments), but their judgment had to be ratified by the emperor personally."

​* Feuerwerker 1976 p66
"There may appear to be a contradiction between the references just made to numerous underlings and the statement that the chou and hsien magistrates were the lowest officials in the hierarchy of imperial government.  The latter implies that China was only superficially governed at the local level, while the former suggests a plenitude of attention.  What I mean to suggest is not that there was no 'government' in Chinese society below the district level, but rather that imperial control of that 'government' through the person of the magistrate was indeed often superficial.  His responsibilities were all-encompassing, but his omnipotence was only theoretical.  Even more than his sovereign whose relations with his official servants -- the bureaucracy -- were sometimes ambiguous, the magistrate -- by law a stranger in the district he was sent to govern, and a short-term resident too -- could be a a captive of local interests rather than their master.
       "At times the magistrate might not even know the local dialect.  he certainly was not familiar with local problems and rarely had time in the usual three-year incumbency to overcome that handicap.  To meet the tax quotas, to maintain order, to adjudicate the civil and criminal cases presented to him, to handle the enormous quantity of paperwork which the administrative code required in the exercise of these functions -- to do his job well, he was dependent on the day-to-day functioning of numerous clerks, messengers, guards, doormen, police, and servants and on the goodwill and cooperation of the local elite.  Only to a limited extent could he and his personal servants and advisers understand or control the local interests, which might themselves be in collusion, represented by those two groups of permanent residents of his district."


* Racinet 1988 p82
​"Mandarins are the public officials of civil and military rule, graded according to the importance of their work and decorated with the insignia of their grade. The official dress consists of a robe embroidered with dragons or serpents. It is fastened with a belt and partly covered by a shorter, more austere robe, over which a cape is worn.
  "The decoration awarded by the emperor for military or civil service are: first, the yellow robe and the peacock feather -- given only to the highest dignitaries; and next, the lan-lin feather. Soldiers who distinguish themselves are allowed to wear a fox's tail."

* 5000 years of Chinese costumes 1988 p172
"The Qing mandarins' outer garments were mostly dyed azurite -- a reddish black colour. In addition, in the middle of both the front and the back part was a patch of cloth. The garment was therefore called 'patch gown' or 'patched clothes'. The patches, following the Ming dress system, were usually embroidered with the forms of animals: birds for civil officials and animals for military officers."

* 5000 years of Chinese costumes 1988 p182 f3
"Costume and adornment for ranked civil and military officers including the court hat, the hat and costume for festive occasions, the robe with embroidered square patch at mid-front and back, the court robe and the python robe.  Rank was distinguished by the jewel on the top of the hat, and the design of the patched garment and python robe.  The jewels were as follows: ruby for the 1st rank, coral for the 2nd, sapphire for the 3rd.  Lapis lazuli for the 4th, crystal for the 5th, tridacna shell for the 6th, gold for the 7th, gold top with incised inscriptions for the 8th, and gold top with Chinese characters cut in relief for the 9th.  Those without jewels on their hats were non-ranked officials and officers.  The ornaments worn on hats for festive occasions were about the same as those for the court hats, but at the back of the former there were quills of different colours for different ranks.  Specifically, officials and officers of 6th rank or under used blue quills, while those of 5th rank or above used peacock quills.  The python robes could be blue or azurite in colour.  For 1st to 3rd rank the robe was embroidered with nine five-clawed pythons; for 4th to 6th, eight four-clawed pythons; and for 7th to 9th, five four-clawed pythons.  From princes down, all ranked personages wore azurite-coloured robes with embroidered square patches.  For civil officials the patches were embroidered with birds, while for military officers they were embroidered with animals.  As far as shape was concerned, patches for relatives of the emperor were either round or square.  The embroidered birds were as follows: a crane for the 1st rank, golden pheasant for the 2nd, peacock for the 3rd, wild goose for the 4th, lophura for the 5th, egret for the 6th, violet mandarin ducks for the 7th, quail for the 8th and long-tailed flycatch for the 9th.  With regard to the kinds of embroidered animals for military officers, qi ling (Chinese unicorn) was for the 1st rank, lion for the 2nd, leopard for the 3rd, tiger for the 4th, bear for the 5th, young tiger for the 6th, rhinoceros for the 7th and 8th, and sea horse for the 9th."

* Traditional Chinese costumes 2002 p24
"The ceremonial gowns worn by government officials of the Ming and Qing dynasties bore a square embroidered patch on the breast and back, respectively.  The patterns of the patches distinguished the status and ranks of the civil and military officials.  The gowns of the civil officials were decorated with birds such as red-crowned cranes and golden pheasants; and the military officials wore patches with representations of fierce animals such as lions, tigers and leopards.  Hats also served to differentiate the official ranks by means of pearl buttons on the top, peacock feathers and red tassels."


​* Racinet 1988 p82 f2.1 caption
"A mandarin dressed in everyday summer clothes.  As custom dictates, he is holding a fan in one hand and a handkerchief in the other."

​* Yang 1999 p54
"Fan (Shan, 扇).  Fans used by martial artists were made of wood (bamboo and other kinds), or more commonly, metal.  The outer edge was extremely sharp, and often spring-loaded darts were hidden in the ribs.
    "Fans were perhaps the most easily hidden weapons, because they could be kept in plain sight.  A martial artist with a fan in his hand could at one moment be the elegant scholar, and in the next, a deadly fighter.
    "Fans, with their razor-sharp edges, could be used to cut, strike or slide.  Spring-loaded darts were utilized for surprise attacks.  In China, fans are both practical and beautiful, and their use began very early in Chinese history."

* Tai chi Tanglang killing fanplay 1984 p3
"A fan can be used as a weapon simply because it has such advantages as handiness, pleasant appearance and the fact that it is easily neglected.  Most of the warriors who used fans as their weapons were well versed in both polite letters and martial arts adn they were both bold and natural.  A fan in the hand is available both for cooling oneself and for self-defence.  However, a fan used as a weapon has a different construction from a general paper fan in that its ribs are made of a metal and its covering is made of silk fabric instead of paper so as to make it tough and tensile."


* 5000 years of Chinese costumes 1988 p182-183 f3
"All civil officials of 5th rank upwards and military officials of 4th rank upwards, as well as judicial officials and high-ranking imperial bodyguards, were also required to wear necklaces consisting of 108 beads threaded together.  Each necklace had 3 strings of smaller bead necklaces attached to it.  For men there were two strings on the left, and for women the same number on the right.  There was yet another string of beads called bei yun (or 'black cloud'), which hung down the wearer's back."