China, Qing Dynasty. An Imperial Order of the Double Dragon, III Class, II Grade, c.1910

Item #W5284

(双龙宝星). (Shuānglóng Bǎoxīng). Instituted by the Guangxu Emperor on 7 February 1882. Type II (1900- 1912 Issue). Type II. In silver, consisting of eight arms, each composed of clusters of individual rays, obverse centre medallion comprised of four concentric rings, the inner ring containing the large central blue stone, the middle ring with silver gilt Manchu inscriptions on the left and Chinese descriptions on the left, the third ring presents a pair of ascending dragons with a setting for a small coral stone at 12 o'clock, the final outer ring with a pattern boarder surrounding the award, the reverse with a plain field, measuring 91.5 mm (w) x 98 mm (h) inclusive of its integral ring, with light enamel contact, otherwise extremely fine. In its wooden box of issue, inscription on the cloth-covered lid in handwritten black ink, red silk lined on the inside lid, violet velvet recessed medal bed, push latch closure, dual hinged on the left side, wear and light soiling evident in the cloth-covering on the exterior, case fine.

Footnote: The Imperial Order of the Double Dragon was an order awarded in the late Qing dynasty. The Order was founded by the Guangxu Emperor on February 7, 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. 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. 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. 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 discontinued the imperial orders after its establishment in 1912.