My book 《Chinese Orders 1862-1955》 has been published for a few months now, and I would like to express my appreciation for the support and encouragement from many medal collectors and enthusiasts. Some collectors asked me why I chose those two orders to put on the book’s front and back cover. First of all, dragon and phoenix symbolize good fortune and prosperity in Chinese tradition. But more importantly, those two orders had their historical significance in Chinese medal history.
1. On the front cover is the Double Dragon Order, first type, second class, third grade. The Chinese Government at the time commissioned the renowned House of Fabergé in Saint Petersburg, Russia to manufacture this order. The design and the craftsmanship of this order were unsurpassedly exquisite. The design adhered strictly to the Qing government’s medal regulations which required a lotus-shaped centre, but also incorporated the star-shaped bottom which are commonly seen in Western orders. The Chinese name of the order literally stands for “Double Dragon Treasure Star”. The star-shaped bottom made the name “Treasure Star” much more figurative. As a result, the order was warmly received by its Western recipients. Of particular note is this design led to the emergence of the second type Double Dragon Order.
2. On the bottom cover is the Medal of Phoenix, third class. It was the first medal ever awarded to female in Chinese history. At the time orders were only awarded to male recipients who had power or who were of importance to the government. Although the Medal of Pheonix was a medal, but not an order, its design was strictly based on that of an order. Therefore, one can actually say that the Medal of Pheonix was an order de facto. It was the highest honor that could be awarded to a female member.
Indeed, there is a special meaning behind each Chinese order. These orders not only represented honors awarded by the government, they also carry a piece of history in each of them. I will be further discussing these in my next book《The History of Chinese Orders》.