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The flag of the Qing dynasty
Qing dynasty
was an emblem adopted in the late 19th century featuring the Azure Dragon
Azure Dragon
on a plain yellow field with the red flaming pearl of the three-legged crow in the upper left corner. It became the first national flag of China and is usually referred to as the " Yellow Dragon
Yellow Dragon
Flag" (traditional Chinese: 黃龍旗; simplified Chinese: 黄龙旗; pinyin: huáng lóng qí). Ruling China from 1644 until the overthrow of the monarchy during the Xinhai Revolution, the Qing dynasty
Qing dynasty
was the last imperial dynasty in China's history. Between 1889 and 1912, the dynasty represented itself with the dragon flag.

Contents

1 Design 2 Triangular version (1862-1889) 3 Rectangular version (1889-1912) 4 Influence 5 Naval flags of Qing dynasty 6 Flags based on Qing dynasty
Qing dynasty
flag 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

Design[edit] Throughout the history of China's imperial dynasties, yellow was considered the royal color of successive Chinese emperors. The legendary first emperor of China was known as the Yellow Emperor (traditional Chinese: 黃帝; simplified Chinese: 黄帝; pinyin: huáng dì). Members of the imperial family of China at that time were the only ones allowed to display the color yellow in buildings and on garments. The Emperor of China
Emperor of China
usually used a Chinese dragon as a symbol of the imperial power and strength. Generally, a five-clawed dragon was used by emperors only. In Chinese culture, a flaming pearl is shown on top of the dragon's head. The pearl is associated with wealth, good luck, and prosperity. The design of the flag was largely based on the Plain Yellow Banner
Plain Yellow Banner
of the Eight Banners.[2]

The Eight Banners

The Eight Banners
Eight Banners
were administrative/military divisions under the Qing dynasty
Qing dynasty
into which all Manchu households were placed. In war, the Eight Banners
Eight Banners
functioned as armies, but the banner system was also the basic organizational framework of all of Manchu society.

Plain Yellow Banner

Bordered Yellow Banner

Plain White Banner

Plain Red Banner

Bordered White Banner

Bordered Red Banner

Plain Blue Banner

Bordered Blue Banner

Triangular version (1862-1889)[edit] The Arrow Incident of 1856 occurred as a result of Chinese civilian vessels flying foreign flags as the Qing dynasty
Qing dynasty
had no official flag at the time.[3] In 1862, sailors from the Chinese and British navies clashed at Wuhan
Wuhan
on the Yangtze River. In response to the British navy's claim of being unable to distinguish between Chinese governmental or navy ships and civilian vessels, Yixin (Prince Gong) urged Zeng Guofan
Zeng Guofan
to create a governmental flag for the Qing, and suggested use of a yellow dragon flag, which was also used as one of the Eight Banners
Eight Banners
of the Manchu as well as in the Chinese army. After due consideration, Zeng Guofan
Zeng Guofan
concluded that a square flag bore too close a resemblance to the Plain Yellow Banner
Plain Yellow Banner
of the Eight Banners with the potential to be viewed as an endorsement of the Eight Banners hierarchy, he instead removed one corner to create a triangular flag.[2] The triangular version of the yellow dragon flag was restricted to naval and governmental use only, no civilian ships were permitted to fly the yellow pennant, and it never became the national flag.[4] However, on some diplomatic occasions and at international exhibitions, this flag was used to represent China. Rectangular version (1889-1912)[edit]

Variant of first Yellow Dragon
Yellow Dragon
Flag, with traditional border decorations.

In September 1881, when the two cruisers Chaoyong and Yangwei ordered from Birkenhead, England
England
were sent to China, Li Hongzhang
Li Hongzhang
realized a triangular ensign was unique among naval flags of other countries. As a result, he petitioned the imperial court for permission and subsequently altered the triangular naval flag into a rectangular one.[5] Seeing Western countries flying national flags on official occasions, Li Hongzhang
Li Hongzhang
also asked Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi
to select a national flag for the Qing dynasty. Among the proposals for use of the Ba gua
Ba gua
flag, the Yellow dragon flag and the Qilin
Qilin
flag, Cixi selected the Yellow dragon design. In 1888, the imperial court promulgated the naval flag as the Qing national flag.[6] Influence[edit] The notion of yellow as representative of Manchu ethnicity was used in the flags of the Five-coloured flag of the Republic of China and on the flag of the Empire of China, although in 1912 the former was challenged by Sun Yat-sen, who thought it inappropriate to use the traditional imperial color to represent Manchu ethnicity.[7] Also, mustard yellow was used in the flag of Manchukuo in deference to the Qing dynasty, on whose flag it was based. The blue dragon was featured in the Twelve Symbols national emblem, which was the state emblem of China from 1913-1928. Naval flags of Qing dynasty[edit]

Horatio Nelson Lay's Proposal (1862)

When Qing dynasty
Qing dynasty
purchased battleships from England
England
in 1862, Horatio Nelson Lay designed several naval flags based on the custom flag he designed.[8] These proposal was not recognized by the Qing dynasty government.[9]

Proposed Naval Ensign by Horatio Nelson Lay

Beiyang Fleet
Beiyang Fleet
(1874-1890)

Beiyang Fleet
Beiyang Fleet
was created in 1874, and several rank flags were introduced based on the traditional five color officials' flags of the old Chinese navy.

Admiral's Flag

Deputy Commanders's Flag

High-ranking Official's Flag, for officials other than navy

Beiyang Navy (1890-1909)

Beiyang Fleet
Beiyang Fleet
became the national navy by Regulations of the Beiyang Fleet in 1888. However rank flags were not updated until 1890, when William Metcalfe Lang and Liu Buchan
Liu Buchan
disputed about their rank flags in an incident. Therefore, the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
advisers proposed five new rank flags to replace the simple two rank flags system.[10]

Proposed Admiral's Flag

Proposed Vice Admiral's Flag

Proposed Rear Admiral's Flag

Proposed Commodore 1st Class's Flag

Proposed Commodore 2nd Class's Flag

However these proposals were not adopted by the Qing dynasty.[11] New rank flags were introduced later in 1890.[12]

Admiral's Flag

High-ranking Official's Flag

Commander of Torpedo Boat's Flag

Commodore's Flag

Imperial Navy (1909-1911)

After the total defeat of Beiyang Navy in First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War
in 1894, the new imperial navy was reorganized following the establishment of the department of navy in 1909. Imperial Chinese Navy adopted the national flag in the canton of naval flags in 1909.[13]

Secretary's Flag

Admiral's Flag

Vice Admiral's Flag

Rear Admiral's Flag

Senior Officer's Flag

Fleet Leader's Flag

Flags based on Qing dynasty
Qing dynasty
flag[edit]

Chinese Eastern Railway

Flag
Flag
of Chinese Eastern Railway
Chinese Eastern Railway
adopted a combination of Qing dynasty and Russian flags. The flag was not updated until 1915.[14]

Flag
Flag
of the Chinese Eastern Railway
Chinese Eastern Railway
(1897-1915)

See also[edit]

Flag
Flag
of Bhutan

References[edit]

^ Dimension of first yellow dragon flag from Wuhan
Wuhan
Custom Archive ^ a b 施爱东 (Shi Aidong) (2011). Qing dragon flag flourished through 50 years of sorrow (哀旗不幸 怒旗不争 大清龙旗50年). 民族艺术. p. 6.  (in Chinese) ^ 肖吟新 (Xiao Yinxin) (2002). The story of the Qing dynasty national flag (清代国旗的故事). 世纪. p. 63.  (in Chinese) ^ "係為雇船捕盜而用,並未奏明定為萬年國旗", "[the flag] is used for ferry and policing, but is not explicitly designated as the permanent national flag", from 《北洋水師章程》(Regulations of the Beiyang Fleet) (in Chinese) ^ "今中國兵商各船日益加增,時與各國交接,自應重定旗式,以祟體制。應將兵船國旗改為長方式,照舊黃色,中畫青色飛龍。", "Nowadays the number of both Chinese military and commercial ships is growing. When our ships meet those of other nations they should display a flag based on a conformed system. [The government] should change the military flag to a pennant with an azure dragon in the middle",《北洋水師章程》(Regulations of the Beiyang Fleet) (in Chinese) ^ 《清朝国旗考》(Study on the Flag
Flag
of Qing), 育民 (in Chinese) ^ "Story of the National Flag, official website of the Kuomintang". Retrieved 11 February 2014.  (in Chinese) ^ The London Gazette ,13 February 1863 ^ Lay-Osborne Flotilla (China) ^ Drawings of the flags in use at the present time by various nations, Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Admiral ^ Images of Chinese Naval Ships(1855-1911) / 中国军舰图志(1855-1911)" by Chen Rui 陈悦, ISBN 9787545811544 ^ 清国北洋海軍実況一班 ^ Source: 北京故宮《海軍旗式及章服圖說》 Archived 2014-01-09 at the Wayback Machine. ("Illustration of Naval flags and Uniforms", Palace Museum, Beijing, China) ^ Chinese Eastern Railway
Chinese Eastern Railway
Company (China)

External links[edit] Media related to Flags of the Qing Dynasty at Wikimedia Commons

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