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Official Hats of the Qing Dynasty

The official hats of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were completely different from those of the previous dynasties. All Qing political and military personnel above the rank of bailiff had to wear a kind of weft hat.


The official hats of the Qing Dynasty generally fall into two types: caps and top hats, and the latter, also called "big hats", include hats that were specially designed for the weather conditions of winter or summer.

Winter hats, round and black, were generally comprised of a black skullcap with an upturned brim and were made of fur, satin or woolen cloth, depending on the weather conditions. Summer hats, on the other hand, were simpler. Cone-shaped and brimless, they were usually woven from strips of bamboo or vines, and laced with with silk brocade. There were white, light green and yellow summer hats, all capped with red tassel.

Both the winter and summer hats were topped with knobs of different materials, signifying officials' ranks. In addition, peacock feathers were also attached to the hats' rear., There were single-eyed ("eye" referring to the round spot on the feather), double eyed and triple-eyed feathers . The more the eyes, the higher the rank. But only the noble men and those who had done "immortal" feats were entitled to wear feathers.

Caps, also called "small hats", were made of six parts stitched together. This kind of hat came into being during the Hongwu years of Ming Taizu (the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)), and was meant to indicate "unity of the country". There were various caps, such as flat-topped and spire-topped ones.

Gems and Official ranks of the Qing Dynasty

The official hat of the Qing Dynasty was invariably topped with a knob made of a gem or silver and gold ornament, which indicated the wearer's rank and power.

A ruby knobrepresented a first-rank official. The most commonlknobs were rosy red, or bright red, while the most precious were bloody red.

A coral knob signified a second-rank official. The coral was hard and red in most cases,with the bright red ones being the most precious.

A sapphire knob referred to a third-rank official, with the best such knobs being blue sky in color.

A knob made of lapis lazuli in the colors of azure blue, sky blue, or indigo was attached to a fourth-rank official.

A crystal knob was usually found on a fifth-rank official's hat, with the blue crystal being especially precious.

A sixth-rank official's hat was often topped with a tridacna knob, which was the shell of a mollusk, a kind of giant clam, and was seen as one of the seven treasures (gold and silver, colored glaze, tridacna, agate, coral, amber and pearl ) in ancient times.

The knob of a seventh-rank official' hat was usually made of plain gold.

A knob made of gold with characters cut in intaglio represented the eighth-rank official while one made of gold with characters cut in relief was found on the hat of the ninth-rank official. A hat with no knobs on top was worn by officials of no rank.

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