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Boxers Army (China)

Last modified: 2020-07-11 by ian macdonald
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[Boxers Army] image by Jaume Ollé, 02 December 2009


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Flag of Boxers Army

The red triangle flag charged with white and black yin yang and four white circle with white border.
The Boxer Rebellion, more properly called the Boxer Uprising, or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement (simplified Chinese: 义和团运动; traditional  Chinese: 義和團運動; pinyin: Yìhétuán Yùndòng) in Chinese, was a violent anti-imperialism, anti-Christian movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society"  (Yihe tuan), or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and  Harmonious Fists" (known as "Boxers" in English), between 1898 and 1901. In response to imperialist expansion, growth of cosmopolitan influences, and  missionary evangelism, and against the backdrop of state fiscal crisis and  natural disasters, local organizations began to emerge in Shandong in 1898. At first, they were relentlessly suppressed by the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty  of China. Later, the Qing Dynasty tried to expel western influence from  China. Under the slogan "Support the Qing, destroy the foreign" (扶清灭洋), Boxers across North China attacked mission compounds.
In June 1900, Boxer fighters, lightly armed or unarmed, gathered in Beijing to besiege the foreign embassies. On June 21, the conservative faction of the Imperial Court induced the Empress Dowager, who ruled in the emperor's name, to declare war on the foreign powers that had diplomatic representation in Beijing. Diplomats, foreign civilians, soldiers and some Chinese Christians retreated to the Legation Quarter where they held out for fifty-five days until the Eight-Nation Alliance brought 20,000 troops to their rescue.
The Boxer Protocol of September 7, 1901 ended the uprising and provided for severe punishments, including an indemnity of 67 million pounds.
The Qing Dynasty was greatly weakened, and was eventually overthrown by the 1911 revolution, which led to the establishment of the Chinese Republic.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 02 December 2009


Boxer Rebellion Flags

[Boxers Army] image located by William Garrison, 01 February 2011

Antique Chinese flag at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180616279330&ssPageName=ADME:B:EF:US:1123
Relic from the Boxer Rebellion!
"This blood-stained flag of a FLYING TIGER with fire scrolls" a description that Bonhams Auction rooms of London gave to it. This item has been in my family for over a 100 years. One of my ancestors served in the British Army in China during the Boxer Rebellion, he took this banner to England after he finished his mission in China.
This rare (only one similar found in the National Maritime Museum in London) flag has some signs of age. Due to the fact it weathered battle. Faded, stained, some tears just as much as it is shows on the photographs. It is still a complete piece of hand-crafted art.
Size of the flag: 80.5cm x 79cm (31,7 x 31 in.)
William Garrison, 01 February 2011


[Boxers Army] image located by William Garrison, 30 May 2020

Source: https://historical.ha.com/itm/military-and-patriotic/boxer-rebellion-imperial-china-manchu-army-command-flag/a/6226-43009.s?ic4=GalleryView-Thumbnail-071515 

Caption: below this flag:

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.

William Garrison, 30 May 2020


[Boxers Army] image located by William Garrison, 30 May 2020

Source: https://historical.ha.com/itm/military-and-patriotic/boxer-rebellion-imperial-peking-field-force-mounted-artillery-9th-unit-flag/a/6226-43011.s?ic4=GalleryView-Thumbnail-071515

Boxer Rebellion - Imperial Peking Field Force Mounted Artillery 9th Unit Flag. In 1900, the United States sent the China Relief Expedition, comprised of the 9th and 14th Infantry regiments, elements of the 6th Cavalry and the 5th Artillery regiments, and a battalion of Marines to aid the Eight Nation Alliance in lifting the siege of Peking (modern Beijing). Earlier that year the Yhqun (Militia United in Righteousness), a populist group who detested both Christians and foreign interference, had risen in defiance of the government in Beijing. Known to the west simply as "The Boxers" they besieged the foreign legations and seized large portions of the Chinese capital.

The combined western forces occupied Beijing until the Boxer Protocol Treaty was signed in 1901. For occupying troops everywhere flags proved a popular trophy item, this flag among them.

This is a unit flag, hand stitched, double faced, cotton, approximately, 34" X 35", with Chinese characters stitched to both sides in white on a black background with a white picture frame border, finished with a plain edge. There is no identifiable system of attachment remaining. The characters roughly translate, Qipao jiu dui or "Mounted Artillery 9th Unit," and were undoubtedly part of the Peking Field Force that garrisoned the Chinese Capital.

Power in China, at the turn of the 20th century, lay with the Qing Dynasty, a Manchu minority that had conquered the Ming dynasty in 1644. Although officially neutral, there was no unanimity in the Chinese military, and some, especially in the ruling class, favored the Boxers. Whether through surrender or trade this flag was acquired, likely by an American soldier, who ultimately conveyed it to Reuben Henley Lloyd.

Lloyd (1835-1909), a San Francisco lawyer, community leader, Mason and Bohemian, was well known in local affairs and in turn gifted this flag to Michael Henry de Young, whose de Young Museum, the product of his fertile brain and vast fortune, had become San Francisco's premier repository for art, ephemera, curiosities and in this case, flags.

The flags remained at the de Young until it was merged with the California Palace of the Legion of Honor to form the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

This is a significant opportunity for a collector of Imperial Chinese Military, Boxer, militaria, and Asian ephemera. Boxer Rebellion items rarely come to auction.

Condition: The flag is in good condition. It is used, worn and soiled with several small holes, but otherwise intact and complete.

Provenance: Reuben H Lloyd; de Young Museum, San Francisco Fine Arts Museums.
Note: This flag was not part of the Rungee Museum collection.
William Garrison, 30 May 2020

This is a unit flag, hand stitched, double faced, cotton, approximately, 34" X 35", with Chinese characters stitched to both sides in white on a black background with a white picture frame border, finished with a plain edge. There is no identifiable system of attachment remaining. The characters roughly translate, Qipao jiu dui or "Mounted Artillery 9th Unit," and were undoubtedly part of the Peking Field Force that garrisoned the Chinese Capital.

It should be read, from right to left, "xiao qi ying" (cavalry), then the middle, "pao jiu dui" (artillery 9th unit).
Miles Li, 30 May 2020