Pecking Order:
The Symbolism and Significance of
Rank Badges and Other Traditional Chinese Textiles

This exhibition features Chinese textiles made between 1800 and 1949. Although artisans in palaces or commercial studios produced embroidered bolts of silk and individually crafted objects, the art of embroidery remained closely associated with women. In pre-modern China, embroidery was considered a refined and virtuous activity that was used to measure a woman’s worth. Traditional women’s gifts to family and close friends included handmade works such as pouches and shoes.

Rank badges made the wearer’s position in society immediately identifiable. Most rank badges for civil and military officials and their families were fabricated in textile workshops.

Organized by the Norton Museum of Art. This exhibition was made possible by the generosity of John and Heidi Niblack.

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