Inventory no.: 729

729. Mandarin Hat Buttons


Three Hat Insignia – Third, Sixth & Seventh Ranks


19th century

heights: around 5.5 cm each, plus the stands

Each of these three hat insignias or knobs comprises a gilded metal base, one with prunus blossoms, and the other two with repeated triangular motifs. Two are surmounted by a Peking glass sphere topped by gilt metal disks. The other is surmounted by a hollow gilt copper or brass sphere.

Hat knobs were introduced in 1727. They were worn on hats by China’s Imperial family, nobles and officials. Officials were able to identify the rank of one another by their costume and the colour of their hat knobs. There were nine official ranks in total.

The knobs here represent the sixth (white), third (blue) and seventh (gilt copper or brass) ranks.

There are no chips to the glass spheres. The gilt on the filigree work on each of the knobs has age-related fading. The sphere of seventh rank knob is dented in one place.


See Rutherford, J., ‘Celestial Silks: Chinese Religious and Court Textiles’, Arts of Asia, July-August 2004.

Inventory no.: 729