Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


The Q'ing dynasty of China held its position of power from 1644-1911. Towards the end of their reign, the practice of selling ranks to citizens became commonplace in order to help fund the failing dynasty. The University of Rhode Island acquired a Q'ing dynasty vest (accession number 90.01.11), which is presumably a female's piece of dress dating from the late nineteenth century. This vest is missing the rank badge that would normally be positioned on the front and back of the vest. Because the rank badge is missing, this paper will focus on the embroidery surrounding the empty space to determine the civil status of the wearer, the location of the vest's production, and what different symbols in the embroidery represent. These different avenues of discovery will lend themselves to examining the politics of the era by concentrating on the social practices that surround this female Q'ing vest.