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Red Chinese Dragon in a Pink Sea of Swirls

Red Chinese Dragon in a Pink Sea of Swirls

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This 'Red Chinese Dragon in a Pink Sea of Swirls Canvas Print' is one that you can enjoy on many levels.

If you hone in on some of the detail then you can see all kinds of chinese symbols, including swirls, fans and birds.

One of the interesting things about the art of ancient chinese dragons is quite how much meaning was often attributed to different styles and designs.

This is particularly evident actually in the clothes that were worn (though the art clearly reflected this as well).

As one example, consider the court dress code of the Ming Dynasty in China (which was from 1368 to 1644 AD).

At court all of the clothing was ranked, such that you could only wear clothes of certain colors and symbols if you were deemed to be of a certain rank within the court.

At the top of the totem pole was the Chinese Emperor. Only Royals could wear Dragon robes, though honored officials could be granted the privilege of wearing 'python' robes which resembled Dragons, only with four claws instead of five.

(If you look closely at this artwork you can see that it depicts a Dragon, as it has five claws, not four. Though, date wise, th).

Their were 18 ranks below the Emperor at court. They doubled up images, as there were two 'grades' for each rank, so that one was senior, and one was junior, so there were nine animals that were worn.

Here is the order from most important officials to least, in terms of the symbolic animals that they were allowed to wear on their clothing (note there are two lists, because the animals were different depending on whether you were a 'Civilian' Official or in the 'Military'.

Civilian 'Animals' in order of importance from 'Most to Least'

  • Red-crowned crane
  • Golden pheasant
  • Peacock
  • Wild goose
  • Silver pheasant
  • Egret
  • Mandarin Duck
  • Oriole
  • Quail

Military 'Animals' in order of importance from 'Most to Least'

  • Lion (clearly everyone at Chinese court wanted to be a 'Lion', because the top four military ranks, not just the top two, wore Lions)
  • Tiger
  • Leopard
  • Bear
  • Panther (again covered 4 ranks)
  • Rhinonceros
  • A horse in the sea (note - NOT a seahorse)

 So, it is interesting to start looking out for the animals in Chinese Art and Design Decor, and realise that where you see a 'Bear'; someone at Chinese court in 1600 would have seen the 'Grand Secretary of the Cabinet' walking towards them!

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