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Design Inspiration: A Phoenix Rises to Nobility


In the late 14th century of the Ming Dynasty, the use of woven or embroidered insignia badges were worn at the chest and back of robes to indicate rank in social and military circles.  The mandated system specified a particular bird or animal for each of the nine ranks.

In the above Ming-dynasty badge of silk and gold threads, we see a pair of phoenixes.  The phoenix was associated with the empress, just as the dragon was the symbol of the emperor.  Here, the paired phoenixes identify the owner of this insignia as an imperial lady or high-ranking noble woman. 

As you look more closely you will find more symbolic references.  The long-tailed pair focus on each other with intense energy, their curving forms spiraling that energy inward toward the center of the badge.  The perched male bird sits on a rock over waves, an abbreviated reference to the deep sea / cosmic mountain motif.  Lingzhi mushrooms of immortality grow near the rocks.  He turns his head towards his mate, who hovers above in a cloud-filled sky.  (It was unusual to have a female figure higher than a male during this time.)  Three large peonies in full bloom, emblems of female beauty, separate the pair and complete the imagery. 

This single museum piece was the inspiration for three of our designs.  If you would like to empower the same female energy as our imperial lady then you can wear her insignia here:

Due East Skirt
Chinaberry Tank Dress
Phoenix Kimono

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