Chinese Ancestor Portrait of a Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Ancestral Portrait, Portrait of Chinese First Rank Official. Possible Li Hongzhang.
Year: 18th Century, Qing Dynasty
Medium: Ink and Colours on Silk Laid on Panel.
Ancestor portrait of a Chinese Mandarin, seated in a blue, fur-trimmed robe, possible Li Hongzhang.
Official rank (pin) in Qing dynasty
The Qing dynasty, much like previous dynasties, used an "official rank" system (品; pǐn). This system had nine numbered ranks, each subdivided into upper and lower levels, in addition to the lowest "unranked" rank: from upper first pin (正一品), to lower ninth pin (從九品), to the unranked (未入流), for a total of 19 ranks. All government personnel, from the highest chancellors to the lowest clerk, held an official rank ex officio, which determined their salary, uniform, privileges and order of precedence.
This pin system existed in parallel to the noble ranks detailed in this article. Many higher noble titles ranked above this system (超品; chāopǐn). And while some titles corresponded to a pin, they were considered equivalents of convenience rather than actual official ranks.