This embroidered cloth panel is one of a pair of Chinese government rank badges (which were unfortunately stapled together in an earlier era of museum curation). The badge would have been worn on the coat of a government official to signify his rank. The Qilin depicted on this rank badge is a mythical animal with a dragon’s head, a deer’s antlers, an ox’s hoofed feet, a lion’s tail, and the scaly skin of fish. During the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), a Qilin badge signified a first rank military officer. Embroidered with gold, silver, and multicolored silk threads, the Qilin walks on a landscape rich in Buddhist symbols. In 1926, after returning from a three-year stay in China, U-M alumnus Frederick W. and his wife Nellie Stevens donated this pair of badges (and many more textiles and ornaments, now called the Stevens Collection) to the Museum. See also Day 49 and Day 108.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.