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Order of the Double Dragon

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Order of the Double Dragon

The Imperial Order of the Double Dragon (simplified Chinese: 双龙宝星; traditional Chinese: 雙龍寶星; pinyin: Shuānglóng Bǎoxīng; literally: "Double Dragon Precious Star") was an order awarded in the late Qing dynasty.

The Order was founded by the Guangxu Emperor on 7 February 1882 as an award for outstanding services to the throne and the Qing court. Originally it was awarded only to foreigners but was extended to Chinese subjects from 1908.[1] It was the first Western-style Chinese order, established in the wake of the Second Opium War as part of efforts to engage with the West and adopt Western-style diplomatic practices.[2] Traditionally the Chinese court did not have an honours system in the Western sense; however hat buttons, rank badges, feathers and plumes were routinely awarded by the Emperor to subjects and foreigners alike prior to and after the introduction of the Order of the Double Dragon.[3] The order was replaced in 1911 during the last days of the Qing dynasty by the Grand Order of the Throne, although this replacement was never fully implemented and the Republic of China replaced the imperial orders after its establishment in 1912.[3]


II Grade

The order took on many different designs and forms until its abolition in 1911. Gradations were distinguished most commonly by differentiation in the type and size of precious stones inlaid, the shape of the medallion, the length of the ribbon, and the material used to construct the medallion. Gold and pearl were reserved for the higher classes, enamel and coral for the lowest classes.[4] The original designs were similar in style and appearance to traditional Chinese insignia, but they proved cumbersome for many to wear and in 1897 they were redesigned in the form of a Western-style breast-badge, although the original designs were still awarded for some time afterwards.[5] Similar symbolic motifs accompanied all designs over the award's history, most notably two dragons surrounding a central precious stone and flames which were connotative symbols of imperial authority. Other symbols of imperial authority - mountains, clouds, plum blossoms and characters with providential meanings - were added to variations of the designs over time.[6]


The order consisted of five classes, the first three of which were divided into three grades. The rules for award and the nature of the gradations was set out in the statues establishing the award in 1882. The rules were modified somewhat in 1897.[7]

  • First Class, First Grade: for emperors and kings of foreign nations
  • First Class, Second Grade: for princes, and royal family members and relatives (later limited to royal family members who had earned, and not inherited, senior positions in government)
  • First Class, Second Grade: for ministers of who had inherited their position, general ministers, and diplomatic envoys of the first rank.[8]
  • Second Class, First Grade: for diplomatic envoys of the second rank
  • Second Class, Second Grade: for diplomatic envoys of the third rank and customs commissioners [9]
  • Second Class, Third Grade: for counselors of the first rank, consul-generals and military generals
  • Third Class, First Grade: for counselors of the second and third rank, the entourage of consul-generals, and second-tier military officers [10]
  • Third Class, Second Grade: for deputy consuls, and third-tier military officers
  • Third Class, Third Grade: for translators and military officers of the fourth and fifth tiers
  • Fourth Class: for soldiers and non-commissioned officers
  • Fifth Class: for businessmen and traders


Despite the comprehensive ranking system, the actual awarding of the classes was lopsided, and very few Fourth or Fifth class were ever given. The much higher ranking of translators and other civil servants in the system compared to even the wealthiest Western industrialists and businessmen was in part reflecting of the traditional Chinese antipathy towards profit-seeking and commercial individuals, compared the honourability accorded to civil service. Despite patriarchal traditions however, foreign women were bestowed the order, including Canadian missionary Dr Leonora King and American artist Katherine Carl. Native Chinese were granted the right to order in 1908, but very few Chinese ever received the award and it remained an overwhelmingly foreign order.[11]

Notes and sources

  1. ^ Order of the Double Dragon - Shuang Lung Pao Hsing (The Imperial Order of the Double Dragon)
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ - Grand Condon (3rd Class), 2nd type, 1st Grade (The Imperial Order of the Double Dragon)
  9. ^ - Grand Cross 2nd Class, 2nd Type, 1st Grade (The Imperial Order of the Double Dragon)
  10. ^ - Commander`s Cross (3rd Class), 2nd type, 1st Grade (The Imperial Order of the Double Dragon)
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Court Circular" The Times (London). Wednesday, 21 May 1902. (36773), p. 9.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27429. p. 2860. 29 April 1902.
  15. ^

External links

  • Classification of the Qing Dynasty Double Dragon Orders, Chinese Medal Blog
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