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    Description

    Boxer rebellion - Imperial China - Manchu, Army Command Flag. This is a silk flag with Manchu inscription dates from the Boxer Rebellion, a popular uprising in China against Christianity and foreign influence. In 1644, the Manchus seized control of Peking (modern Beijing) overthrew the Ming dynasty and established the Qing dynasty, which would rule until 1912. The Manchus brought the Eight Banners System to the military specifically and society in general. All Manchu households were placed under one of the banners. In war, the Eight Banners functioned as armies, but the banner system was also the basic organizational framework of all of Manchu society. The three "upper" banners (Plain Yellow Banner, Bordered Yellow Banner, and Plain White Banner) were directly controlled by the emperor.

    In 1900, the "Boxers" besieged the foreign legations and seized large portions of the Chinese capital. A coalition of allies called the Eight-Nation Alliance joined forces to relieve the siege of the foreign legations in Beijing and eventually suppressed the uprising. The United States sent the China Relief Expedition consisting of the 9th and 14th Infantry regiments, elements of the 6th Cavalry regiment, the 5th Artillery regiment, and a USMC battalion. They would help occupy the Chinese capital until a Treaty was signed in 1901.

    The Imperial Army/Manchu flag is silk brocade, woven with a traditional heavenly or cloud pattern, triangular in shape, with flam mules or flame shaped edges on two sides. It is approximately 71" X 108", with a centered, red, handstitched, double-faced, Manchu script syllabary ging. The flag is finished along the hoist side with a linen/cotton hoist with a tie at the bottom. A provisional translation of the character is "He or those who officially or respectfully watch over, [defend] the capital".

    Ronglu (1836 - 1903), was a Manchu political and military leader and a high-ranking member of the Plain White Banner. A favorite of the Qing Empress Dowager when she fled the capital, he was denied permission to accompany her and was instead order to remain in Beijing as the Nine Gates Infantry Commander who oversaw the Beijing Field Force and the Wuwei Corps, a western trained and organized military unit, to resist the forces of the Eight-Nation Alliance. It has been speculated that this flag was associated with Ronglu. The plain white brocade silk, the Manchu script, and the overall high quality with which it was made. Most surviving Imperial Army flags do not betray this workmanship, instead being simply sewn cotton.


    Flags were a popular trophy item for US troops and many made their way to the United States with veterans of the China relief expedition. Somehow this flag was conveyed to Reuben Henley Lloyd (1835-1909), a San Francisco lawyer, and community leader, although he never held elected office, serving only as an appointed Parks Commissioner. He was leader of the Masonic community, a member of the Bohemian Club, an eclectic association of journalists, artists, musicians, businessmen, and entrepreneurs.

    In turn, Mr. Lloyd gifted this flag to Michael Henry de Young, (1849 -1925), an American journalist and businessman who owned and published the San Francisco Chronicle. He used his vast wealth to further his eclectic tastes and accumulated a collection of immense variety in the de Young Museum, which as San Francisco's premier repository, came to house a number of flags. These eventually evolved to The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

    These is no other known surviving Manchu, Army Command Flag from the Boxer Rebellion. This is an opportunity for an advanced collector of Manchu, Imperial Chinese, Boxer Rebellion, military trophies and Chinese ephemera.

    Condition: The pennant is in good condition. It is used, worn, and soiled with some color transference from the red, likely due to being folded when wet.

    Provenance: Reuben H Lloyd; de Young Museum, San Francisco Fine Arts Museums.
    Note: This flag was not part of the Rungee Museum Collection.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2020
    6th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,166

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