The Nguyen dynasty ended the feudal system in Vietnam after ruling it for 143 years (1802 - 1945). The costume for the Nguyen officials was identified as strictly as what in previous reigns and regulated by the Ministry of Ceremonies.
In this article, we would like to present the mandarin squares on the surcoat of the officials of Nguyen dynasty.
A mandarin square, also known as a rank badge, was a large embroidered badge sewn onto the surcoat of an official in Imperial China, Korea and Vietnam. It was embroidered with detailed, colourful animal or bird insignia indicating the rank of the official wearing it. In Vietnam, the mandarin square was used for the first time in the Later Le dynasty in Le Thanh Tong's reign (1471).
In Nguyen dynasty, the mandarin squares depicting birds were used for civil officials and animals for military officials.
For example, in the throne of Gia Long king, the mandarin square had the following details:
For civil officials: the squares depicting the crane bird on the yellow background fabric used for the first to the third ranking officials, peacock on red background for the 4th and 6th ranking, egret for the 7th ranking and quail for the 9th ranking.
For military officials: depicting kylin for the 1st-3rd ranking, lion for 2nd ranking, tiger for the 4th ranking, leopard for the 5th ranking and bear for the 6th ranking, panther for the 7th ranking, and rhino for the 9th ranking.
But in Ming Mang's throne, there were no badges on the coat of the officials.
The Vietnam National Museum of History houses around 50 badges of the officials of Nguyen dynasty. This collection together with the collection of the costume of Nguyen dynasty are being completed and documented by the museum and will be public in near future.
We would like to present some of them as follows:
EN: Tran Trang
Đinh Quỳnh Hoa (Phòng QLHV)