A very rare Ming embroidered 'xiezhi' rank badge, buzi, Early Ming dynasty, 15th century

Lot 2149. A very rare Ming embroidered 'xiezhi' rank badge, buzi, Early Ming dynasty, 15th century; 20 in. (51 cm.) square. Estimate HKD 150,000 - HKD 180,000Price realised HKD 237,500. © Christie's Image Ltd 2013

The imperial censor's rank badge is finely woven to depict a mythicalXiezhi in cream colour highlighted with green and pale brown, its dragon head with a single horn and mouth agape, amidst ruyi-clouds on a brown ground. The beast is standing on a river bank surrounded with lotus and other flowers.

ProvenanceLinda Wrigglesworth, London 

NoteThe Xiezhi is a mythical animal believed to be able to detect wrongdoing and point-out the culprits with its horn. As such it was deemed appropriate insignia for the imperial censors.

This simple composition of the Ming censor badge evolved into a more sophisticated and decorative style during the Qing period, which may include the sun, the implements of the Eight Immortals, auspicious objects and a lishui stripe.  

Christie's. Imperial Sale. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 29 May 2013, Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall