Royal and noble ranks of the Qing dynasty
- 1 Rule of inheritance
- 2 Grading system
- 3 Titular names
- 4 Imperial clan
- 5 Non-imperial nobility
- 6 Civil and honorary titles
- 7 Ranks of protectorates and tributary states
- 8 Other honours and privileges
- 9 Etymology of Manchu titles
- 10 See also
- 11 References
Rule of inheritance
In principle, titles were downgraded one grade for each generation of inheritance.
- Direct imperial princes with the Eight Privileges were downgraded for four generations, after which the title can be inherited without further downgrades.
- Direct imperial princes without the Eight Privileges were downgraded until the rank of feng'en jiangjun, which then became perpetual.
- Cadet line imperial princes and lords were downgraded until they reached feng'en jiangjun, which could be further inherited three times before the title expired completely.
- For non-imperial peers, the title could be downgraded to en jiwei before becoming perpetually heritable.
Occasionally, a peer could be granted the privilege of shixi wangti (世襲罔替; shìxí wǎngtì; "perpetual heritability"), which allowed the title to be passed down without downgrading. Throughout the Qing dynasty, there were 12 imperial princely families who enjoyed this privilege. They were known as the "iron-cap princes".
The noble titles were inherited through a system of loose primogeniture: The eldest son from the peer's first wife was usually the heir apparent, but inheritance by a younger son, a son of a concubine, or brother of the peer was not uncommon. Non-heir sons of imperial princes were entitled to petition for a lower title, according to his birth (by the chief consort, secondary consort or concubines) and his father's rank, than the one they would have received had they been the heir. Non-heir sons of other peers were also occasionally granted a lower title.
Whether imperial or not, the inheritance or creation was never automatic, and must be approved either by the Emperor, the Ministry of Personnel, or the Imperial Clan Court. Imperial princes, upon reaching adulthood at the age of 20, must pass tests in horse-riding, archery and the Manchu language before they were eligible for titles. Imperial princesses, other than the Emperor's daughters, were usually granted titles upon marriage, regardless of age. Princesses' titles were also usually fixed after they were granted, and were not affected by changes in their fathers' nobility ranks.
Yunjiwei ("sub-commander of the cloud cavalry") was originally a military rank created in the Sui dynasty, but it was later turned into a military honour in the Tang dynasty as part of the xun guan (勳官; xūn guān) system. The Qing dynasty abolished the separate military honour system and merged it into the nobility rank system, using yunjiwei as the lowest grantable rank of nobility, and the basic unit of rank progression.
For example, a yunjiwei who received another grant of yunjiwei became a jiduwei. A first-class duke plus yunjiwei was the equivalent of 23 grants of yunjiwei.
Official rank (pin)
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.
Historically, Chinese noble titles were usually created with a shiyi (食邑; shíyì; fief) each, even though the fief may only be nominal. The Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty enfeoffed cadet branch princes and other nobles in different regions of China. The Qing dynasty ended this tradition; with only a few exceptions, no fief was ever named. No Qing prince was enfeoffed with territory. Instead, noble titles were created without a name, or were bestowed a meihao (美號; meǐhào; titular name). These names were usually descriptive of the peer's merit, virtue, or the circumstances leading to his ennoblement. The Dukes Yansheng kept their traditional fief in Shandong under Qing rule.
Titular names were unique for imperial princes, while non-imperial peers' titular names may overlap. Following Ming dynasty tradition, single-character names were reserved for qinwangs, while junwangs used two-character names. All other peers normally had two-character names, but may receive up to four characters.
Since noble titles were primarily awarded for military service, the titular names predominantly described martial virtues, e.g., zhongyong gong (忠勇公; zhōngyǒng gōng; "loyal and brave duke"). However, a particularly common titular name was cheng'en gong (承恩公; chéng'ēn gōng; "duke who receives grace"), which was frequently granted to the Empress's family members.
At the top of the imperial hierarchy, the highest six ranks enjoyed the "Eight Privileges" (八分; bafen; jakūn ubu). These privileges were red carriage wheels, purple horse reins, heated carriages, purple cushions, gemstone mandarin hat crests, two-eyed peacock feathers on mandarin hats, use of leather whips to clear the path, and employment of eunuchs.
Peacock feathers, however, were prohibited for princes above the rank of beizi and direct imperial clansmen. The "Eight Privileges" entitled the prince to participate in state councils and share the spoils of war. However, the prince was also bound to reside in the capital and render service to the imperial court.
- Heshuo qinwang (ᡥᠣᡧᠣ ᡳ
ᡱᡳᠨᠸᠠᠩhošo-i cin wang; 和硕亲王; 和碩親王; héshuò qīnwáng), commonly simplified to qinwang, translated as "Prince of the First Rank" or "Prince of the Blood". "Heshuo" ("hošo") means "four corners, four sides" in Manchu.
- Shizi (世子; Shìzǐ; šidzi), meaning "heir son", refers to the heir apparent to a qinwang.
- Duoluo junwang (ᡩᠣᡵᠣ ᡳ
ᡬᡳᠶᡠᠨᠸᠠᠩdoro-i giyūn wang; 多罗郡王; 多羅郡王; duōluó jùnwáng), commonly simplified to junwang, translated as "Prince of the Second Rank" or "Prince of a Commandery".
- Zhangzi (长子; 長子; zhángzǐ; jangdzi), meaning "eldest son" or "chief son", refers to the heir apparent to a junwang.
- Duoluo beile (ᡩᠣᡵᠣ ᡳ
ᠪᡝᡳᠯᡝdoro-i beile; 多罗贝勒; 多羅貝勒; duōluó bèilè), means "lord", "prince" or "chief" in Manchu, commonly simplified to beile, and translated as "Prince of the Third Rank", "Venerable Prince", or "Noble Lord". "Duoluo" ("doro") means "virtue, courtesy, propriety" in Manchu. It was usually granted to the son of a qinwang or junwang. As beile is the best known Manchu, non-Chinese title, it is commonly used to refer to all Manchu princes.
- Gushan beizi (ᡤᡡᠰᠠ ᡳ
ᠪᡝᡝᡳᠰᡝgūsa-i beise; 固山贝子; 固山貝子; gùshān bèizǐ), commonly simplified to beizi, and translated as "Prince of the Fourth Rank", "Banner Prince" or "Banner Lord". "Gushan" ("gūsai") means "banner" in Manchu, a reference to any of the Eight Banners. "Beizi" ("beise") is the plural form of "beile", but since 1636, "beile" and "beizi" were used to refer to two different ranks of nobility.
The four ranks above were granted solely to direct male-line descendants of the Emperor. These titles below were granted to cadet lines of the imperial clan.
- Feng'en zhenguo gong (ᡴᡝᠰᡳ ᠪᡝ
ᡤᡠᠩ kesi-be tuwakiyara gurun-be dalire gung; 奉恩镇国公; 奉恩鎮國公; fèng'ēn zhènguó gōng), translated as "Duke Who Receives Grace and Guards the State", simplified to "Duke Who Guards the State", also translated as "Defender Duke by Grace" or "Duke of the First Rank".
- Feng'en fuguo gong (ᡴᡝᠰᡳ ᠪᡝ
ᡤᡠᠩ kesi-be tuwakiyara gurun-de aisilara gung; 奉恩辅国公; 奉恩輔國公; fèng'ēn fǔguó gōng), translated as "Duke Who Receives Grace and Assists the State", simplified to "Duke Who Assists the State", also translated as "Bulwark Duke by Grace" or "Duke of the Second Rank".
The above six ranks are titles that enjoy the "Eight Privileges". The titles below do not enjoy the "Eight Privileges" and have no imperial duties.
- Burubafen zhenguo gong (ᠵᠠᡴᡡᠨ
ᡤᡠᠩ jakūn ubu-de dosimbuhakū gurun-be dalire gung; 不入八分镇国公; 不入八分鎮國公; bùrùbāfēn zhènguó gōng), translated as "Duke Without the Eight Privileges Who Guards the State", also translated as "Lesser Defender Duke" or "Duke of the Third Rank".
- Burubafen fuguo gong (ᠵᠠᡴᡡᠨ
ᡤᡠᠩ jakūn ubu-de dosimbuhakū gurun-be aisilara gung; 不入八分辅国公; 不入八分輔國公; bùrùbāfēn fǔguó gōng), translated as "Duke Without the Eight Privileges Who Assists the State", also translated as "Lesser Bulwark Duke" or "Duke of the Fourth Rank".
All of the above titles are chaopin (超品; chāopǐn), outranking official ranks. The ranks below are ranked first to fourth pin respectively. The first three jiangjun ranks are each further subdivided into four classes: first class plus yunjiwei, first class, second class, and third class.
- Zhenguo jiangjun (ᡤᡠᡵᡠᠨ ᠪᡝ
ᠵᠠᠩᡤᡳᠨ; gurun be dalire janggin; 镇国将军; 鎮國將軍; zhènguó jiāngjūn), translated as "General Who Guards the State", "Defender General", or "(Hereditary) General of the First Rank".
- Fuguo jiangjun (ᡤᡠᡵᡠᠨ ᡩᡝ
ᠵᠠᠩᡤᡳᠨ; gurun de aisilara janggin; 辅国将军; 輔國將軍; fǔguó jiāngjūn), translated as "General Who Assists the State", "Bulwark General", or "(Hereditary) General of the Second Rank".
- Fengguo jiangjun (ᡤᡠᡵᡠᠨ ᠪᡝ
ᠵᠠᠩᡤᡳᠨ; gurun be tuwakiyara janggin; 奉国将军; 奉國將軍; fèngguó jiāngjūn), translated as "General Who Receives the State", "Supporter General", or "(Hereditary) General of the Third Rank".
- Feng'en jiangjun (ᡴᡝᠰᡳ ᠪᡝ
ᠵᠠᠩᡤᡳᠨ; kesi-be tuwakiyara janggin; 奉恩将军; 奉恩將軍; fèng'ēn jiāngjūn), translated as "General Who Receives Grace", "General by Grace", or "(Hereditary) General of the Fourth Rank". This rank has no sub-classes. This title is not granted per se, but were given to heirs of fengguo jiangjuns.
Regardless of title and rank, an imperial prince was addressed as "A-ge" (ᠠᡤᡝ; age; 阿哥; À-gē), which means "lord" or "commander" in Manchu.
The following titles were granted to female members of the imperial clan:
- Gulun gongzhu (固伦公主; 固倫公主; gùlún gōngzhǔ; gurun-i gungju), translated as "State Princess", "Gurun Princess" or "Princess of the First Rank". It was usually granted to a princess born to the Empress. "Gulun" means "all under Heaven" in Manchu.
- Heshuo gongzhu (和硕公主; 和碩公主; héshuò gōngzhǔ; hošo-i gungju), translated as "Heshuo Princess" or "Princess of the Second Rank". It was usually granted to a princess born to a consort or concubine. "Heshuo" ("hošo") means "four corners, four sides" in Manchu.
- Junzhu (郡主; jùnzhǔ; hošo-i gege), translated as "Princess of a Commandery" or "Princess of the Third Rank". It was usually granted to the daughter of a qinwang. Also called heshuo gege (和碩格格) or qinwang gege (親王格格), lit. "lady of a prince of the blood".
- Xianzhu (县主; 縣主; xiànzhǔ; doro-i gege), translated as "Princess of a County" or "Princess of the Fourth Rank". It was usually granted to the daughter of a junwang or shizi. Also called duolun gege (多倫格格) or junwang gege (郡王格格), lit. "lady of a prince of a commandery".
- Junjun (郡君; jùnjūn; beile-i jui doro-i gege), translated as "Lady of a Commandery" or "Lady of the First Rank". It was usually granted to a daughter born to a secondary consort of a qinwang or to the daughter of a beile. Also called duolun gege (多倫格格) or beile gege (貝勒格格), lit. "lady of a prince (of the third rank)".
- Xianjun (县君; 縣君; xiànjūn; gūsa-i gege), translated as "Lady of a County" or "Lady of the Second Rank". It was usually granted to a daughter born to a secondary consort of a junwang or to the daughter of a beizi. Also called gushan gege (固山格格), lit. "lady of a banner", or beizi gege (貝子格格), lit. "lady of a prince (of the fourth rank)".
- Xiangjun (乡君; 鄉君; xiãngjũn; gung-ni jui gege), translated as "Lady of a Village" or "Lady of the Third Rank". It was usually granted to the daughters of dukes with eight privileges. Also called gong gege (公格格), lit. "lady of a duke".
- Zongnü (宗女; zõngnǚ), translated as "Clanswoman". This is not a granted title, but the honorific given to all daughters of dukes without eight privileges and jiangjuns, as well as all other untitled princesses. However,
- Daughters born to a secondary consort of a beizi are called wupinfeng zongnü (五品俸宗女), "clanswoman with stipend of the fifth pin".
- Daughters born to a secondary consort of a feng'en zhenguo gong or feng'en fuguo gong are called liupinfeng zongnü (六品俸宗女), "clanswoman with stipend of the sixth pin".
Efu (额驸; 額駙; éfù), also known Fuma (驸马; 駙馬; fùmǎ), translated as "Prince Consort". Its original meaning was "emperor's charioteer". It was usually granted to the spouse of a princess above the rank of zongnü. The efus were separated into seven ranks corresponding to the rank of the princesses the efu married. Efus who married gulun gongzhus and heshuo gongzhus held ranks equivalent to the beizis and dukes respectively. The remaining efus had equivalent official rank from the first to fifth pin.
An efu retained his title and privileges as long as the princess remained his primary spouse – even after her death. However, if an efu remarried or promoted a consort to be his primary spouse, he lost all rights obtained from his marriage to the princess.
At the beginning of the Qing dynasty, prior to the formalisation of the rank system, there were also non-standard titles used, such as:
- Da beile (大贝勒; 大貝勒; dà bèilè; amba beile), translated as "Grand Beile", assumed by Daišan during the tetrarchy, and by Huangtaiji prior to his ascension.
- Zhang gongzhu (长公主; 長公主), translated as "Chief Princess", "Elder Princess" or "Princess Imperial", was granted to various daughters of Nurhaci and Huangtaiji.
Standard non-imperial titles
The following are the nine ranks of the peerage awarded for valour, achievement, distinction, other imperial favour, and to imperial consort clans.
- Gong (公; gōng; 'duke'; gung), often referred to as min gong (民公; mín gōng; "commoner duke") to differentiate from the imperial guo gong. Translated as "Duke" or "Non-imperial Duke".
- Hou (侯; hóu; ho), translated as "Marquis" or "Marquess".
- Bo (伯; bó; be), translated as "Count".
The above three ranks are chaopin (超品; chāopǐn), outranking official ranks. The four following ranks were all evolved from leadership ranks in the Manchu banner army, originally called ejen (額真; "lord" or "master" in Manchu) and later janggin (章京; "general" in Manchu).
- Zi (子; zǐ; jinkini hafan), translated as "Viscount".
- Nan (男; nán; ashan-i hafan), translated as "Baron".
- Qingche duwei (轻车都尉; 輕車都尉; qīngchē dūwèi; adaha hafan), translated as "Master Commandant of Light Chariot", roughly equivalent to a commander of a chivalric order.
All of the above ranks are sub-divided into four classes; in order: first class plus yunjiwei, first class, second class, and third class.
- Jiduwei (骑都尉; 騎都尉; jídūwèi; baitalabura hafan), translated as "Master Commandant of Cavalry", rough equivalent of an officer of a chivalric order. This rank is subdivided into two classes: jiduwei plus yunjiwei, and simply jiduwei.
- Yunjiwei (云骑尉; 雲騎尉; yúnjíwèi; tuwašara hafan), translated as "Knight Commandant of the Cloud", rough equivalent of a knight bachelor.
- Enjiwei (恩骑尉; 恩騎尉; ēnjíwèi; kesingge hafan), translated as "Knight Commandant by Grace", rough equivalent of an esquire. This title was not granted per se, but bestowed on the heirs of yunjiweis without the privilege of perpetual inheritance.
Pre-standard non-imperial titles
At the beginning of the Qing dynasty, during Nurhaci's and Huangtaiji's reigns, the noble ranks were not yet standardised. There were several titles created that did not fit into the above system, mostly for defectors from the Ming dynasty. These titles were similar to the titles used in the Ming dynasty, and lack the Manchu nomenclature and the noble rank system introduced later.
- Qinwang, (亲王; 親王; qīnwáng; cin wang), "Prince of the Blood", created for Wu Sangui and Shang Kexi.
- Junwang (郡王; jùnwáng; giyūn wang), "Prince of a Commandery", created for Fuhuan and Fukang'an.
- Wang (王; wáng; wang), "Prince", created for Yangguli and several Ming defectors. The relation between wang and junwang is unclear: in both Ming and Qing traditions, single-character titular names were reserved for qinwangs, while junwangs received two-character titular names, but these wangs were created with both single and two-character titular names. Both Wu Sangui and Shang Kexi were promoted from wang to qinwang, but no wang was ever promoted to junwang or vice versa.
- Beile (贝勒; 貝勒; bèilè; beile), "Lord", "Prince" or "Chief" in Manchu. It was the generic title of all Manchu lords during the Ming dynasty. Under the Qing dynasty, this title was generally reserved for imperials, but was retained by the princes of Yehe after their submission to Nurhaci.
- Beizi (贝子; 貝子; bèizǐ; beise). Normally reserved for imperials, it was uniquely created for Fukang'an, before he was further elevated to junwang.
- Chaopin Gong (超品公; chāopǐngōng; 'duke above ranks'), "High Duke", a unique rank created for Yangguli, before he was further elevated to wang. This title ranks just below beizi and above all other dukes.
- Gong (公; gōng; 'duke'; Gung; "Duke"), Hou (侯; hóu; ho; "Marquess"), and Bo (伯; bó; be; "Count"), similar to the later standard titles, but created without subclasses (不言等; bùyándeng).
Additionally, there were banner offices that later evolved into hereditary noble titles. Despite being used as noble titles, these offices continued to exist and function in the banner hierarchy. To distinguish the noble titles from the offices, they were sometimes called "hereditary office" (世职; 世職; shì zhí) or "hereditary rank" (世爵; shì jué).
- Gūsa ejen (固山额真; 固山額真; gùshān é'zhēn), meaning "master of a banner", later Sinicised to become dutong (都統; dūtǒng), meaning "colonel";
- Evolved into zongbing (总兵; 總兵; zǒngbīng), meaning "chief commander";
- Then into amba janggin (昂邦章京/按班章京; ángbāng zhāngjīng/ànbān zhāngjīng), meaning "grand general";
- Then into jinkini hafan (精奇尼哈番; jīngqíní hāfān), meaning "prime officer";
- Which was finally Sinicised to become zi (子; zǐ), meaning "viscount".
- Meiren-i ejen (梅勒额真/美淩額真; 梅勒額真/美凌額真; méilè é'zhēn/měilíng é'zhēn), meaning "vice master", Sinicised to become fu dutong (副都统; fù dūtǒng), meaning "vice colonel";
- Evolved into fujiang (副将; 副將; fùjiàng), meaning "vice general";
- Then into meiren-i janggin (梅勒章京; méilè zhāngjīng), meaning "vice general";
- Then into ashan-i hafan (阿思尼哈番; ā'sīní hāfān), meaning "vice officer";
- Which was finally Sinicised to become nan (男; nán), meaning "baron".
- Jalan ejen (甲喇额真; 甲喇額真; jiǎlā é'zhēn), meaning "master of a sub-banner", Sinicised to become canling (参领; 參領; cānlǐng), meaning "staff captain";
- Evolved into canjiang (参将; 參將; cānjiàng), meaning "staff general", or youji (游击; 游擊; yóujī), meaning "vanguard" or "skirmish leader";
- Then into jalan janggin (扎兰章京; 扎蘭章京; zhālán zhāngjīng), meaning "general of a sub-banner";
- Then into adaha hafan (阿达哈哈番; 阿達哈哈番; ā'dáhā hāfān), meaning "chariot officer";
- Which was finally Sinicised to become qingche duwei (轻车都尉; 輕車都尉; qīngchē dūweì), meaning "master commandant of light chariot".
- Niru ejen (牛录额真; 牛錄額真; niúlù é'zhēn), meaning "master of an arrow" (an "arrow" was a basic unit of a banner army), later Sinicised to become zuoling (佐领; 佐領; zuólǐng), meaning "assistant captain";
- Evolved into beiyu (备御; 備御; bèiyù), meaning "rearguard";
- Then into niru janggin (牛录章京; 牛錄章京; niúlù zhāngjīng), meaning "general of an arrow";
- Then into baitalabura hafan (拜他喇布勒哈番; bàitālābùlè hāfān), meaning "adjutant officer";
- Which was finally Sinicised to become ji duwei (骑都尉; 騎都尉; jì dūweì), meaning "master commandant of cavalry".
- Duke Yansheng (衍圣公; 衍聖公; Yǎnshèng Gōng; "Duke Overflowing with Sagacity), granted to the heirs of the senior northern branch of Confucius in Qufu.
- Duke Haicheng (海澄公; Hǎichéng Gōng; "Duke East of the Sea"), granted to Ming loyalist Zheng Keshuang, the once independent king of the Taiwan-based Kingdom of Tungning who surrendered to the Qing Empire in 1683, and his heirs.
- Count Zhongcheng (忠誠伯; Zhōngchéng Bó; "Count of Loyalty and Sincerity"), granted to Feng Xifan, a former Ming loyalist official in the Kingdom of Tungning.
- Marquis Jinghai (靖海侯; Jìnghǎi Hóu; "Marquis Pacifying the Sea"), granted to Shi Lang and his heirs.
- Hereditary Magistrate of Guogan County (世袭果敢县令; 世襲果敢縣令; shìxí Guógǎn xiànlìng), granted to Ming loyalist Yang Guohua (楊國華), the ruler of the Kokang region in present-day Myanmar.
- Marquis Yan'en (延恩侯; Yán'ēn Hóu; "Marquis of Extended Grace"), granted to the heads of a cadet branch of the House of Zhu, the imperial clan of the Ming dynasty.
- Count Zhaoxin (昭信伯; Zhāoxìn Bó), granted to Li Shiyao (李侍堯), a descendant of Li Yongfang (李永芳).
- First Class Marquis Yiyong (一等毅勇侯; Yīděng Yìyǒng Hóu), granted to Zeng Guofan and his descendants.
- Second Class Marquis Kejing (二等恪靖侯; Èrděng Kèjìng Hóu), granted to Zuo Zongtang and his descendants.
- First Class Marquis Suyi (一等肅毅候; Yīděng Sùyì Hòu), granted to Li Hongzhang and his descendants.
Civil and honorary titles
With a few exceptions, the above titles were, in principle, created for only military merits. There were also titles for civil officials.
While there were a few Manchu civil titles, the most important civil titles followed the Han Chinese Confucian tradition, derived from high bureaucratic offices or imperial household offices that evolved into honorary sinecures. These were sometimes granted as special privileges, but also often as a practical means of conferring official rank promotion without giving specific responsibilities. Examples of such titles were taibao (太保; "Grand Protector"), shaoshi (少師; "Junior Preceptor"), taizi taifu (太子太傅; "Grand Tutor of the Crown Prince"), and daifu (大夫; "Gentleman"). These titles were non-heritable.
In addition, there were also honorary and hereditary titles granted to religious and cultural leaders, such as:
- Wujing Boshi (五经博士; 五經博士; Wǔjīng Bóshì; 'Professor of the Five Classics'), a title used in the Hanlin Academy. It was awarded the southern branch of Confucius's descendants in Quzhou, and Mencius's descendants in Zoucheng, as well as descendants of Confucian sages (e.g. Confucius's disciples and prominent Neo-Confucian scholars), and descendants of Guan Yu and the Duke of Zhou. There were 22 of them. Zhang Zai's descendants received the "Wujing Boshi" appointment along with those of Zhu Xi, Cheng Hao, Cheng Yi and Zhou Dunyi.
- Zhengyi Si Jiao Zhenren (正一嗣教真人; 正一嗣教眞人; Zhèngyī Sì Jiào Zhēnrén), an honorary title awarded to Zhang Daoling's descendants and the Celestial Masters.
Ranks of protectorates and tributary states
The Qing imperial court also granted titles to princes of its protectorates and tributary states, mainly in Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet. The vassal titles were generally inherited in perpetuity without downgrading.
The ranks roughly mirrored those of the imperial clan, with a few differences:
- Han (汗; hàn; 'Khan'; han), ranked higher than qinwang, and ranked only below the Emperor and the Crown Prince in the Qing hierarchy. Sometimes also called hanwang (汗王; hánwáng; "Khan-King"). The Emperor also used the title of dahan (大汗; dàhán; "Great Khan") instead of Emperor in communiqués to the Central Asian states.
- Vassal princes who did not have the "Eight Privileges". There were no distinctions between dukes with or without the "Eight Privileges". There were only two ducal ranks: zhenguo gong and fuguo gong.
- Instead of the jiangjun ranks, the vassal lords held these titles:
The taiji and tabunang are equal in rank, and both subdivided into five classes: jasagh, first class, second class, third class, and fourth class. Jasagh is chaopin, above official ranks, while the rest were equivalent to the first to fourth pin.
Under the tusi system, the Qing Empire also recognised various local tribal chieftainships of ethnic minority tribes. This was mainly applied in the mountain regions of Yunnan, but also in western and northern borderlands.
Other honours and privileges
In addition to systematised rank titles listed above, there were also other honorific titles and privileges, mostly non-heritable:
- There were various Mongol/Manchu/Turkic titles, granted mainly to non-Han vassals and officials. Bitesi, baksi, jarguci were civil honours, while baturu, daicing, cuhur were military honours. Jasagh was granted to vassals with autonomous power, while darhan was a hereditary title divided into three classes. These titles were mostly awarded to Manchus and Mongols in the early Qing dynasty, but gradually fell out of use as the court became increasingly Sinicised.
- The privilege of wearing feathers on the mandarin hat; this privilege was known as lingyu (翎羽; língyǔ):
- Peacock feathers (花翎; huālíng) were usually worn by imperial princes, prince consorts, imperial bodyguards and some high-ranking officials. Exceptionally, peacock feathers may be granted as a special honour. Two-eyed and three-eyed feathers were very rarely bestowed – only seven peers ever received the three-eyed feathers, while two dozens received the two-eyed feathers.
- Blue feathers (蓝翎; 藍翎; lánlíng) were usually worn by household officials of the imperial and princely houses. Like peacock feathers, blue feathers may be granted as a special honour, usually to officials of the sixth pin and below.
- Although a badge of honour, the feathers also symbolised bond servitude to the Emperor. As such, direct imperial clansmen and imperial princes ranked beile and above were prohibited from wearing feathers.
- The privilege of wearing the yellow jacket (武功黄马褂子; 武功黃馬褂子; wǔgōng huángmǎ guàzǐ; "yellow jacket of martial merit"). This is usually the uniform of imperial bodyguards, but it could also be bestowed upon anyone by the Emperor. A rare honour in the early Qing dynasty, it was diluted through excessive grants in the late Qing era. The jacket may only be worn in the Emperor's presence.
- The privilege of wearing imperial girdles (to both the recipient and his issue):
- The yellow girdles (黄带子; 黃帶子; huángdàizi) were normally reserved for direct imperial clansmen (宗室; zōngshì), but may be granted to collateral imperial clansmen, known as gioro (觉罗; 覺羅; juéluó) as an honour. The yellow girdle entitled the wearer to be tried by the Imperial Clan Court as opposed to the general or banner courts.
- The red girdles (红带子; 紅帶子; hóngdàizi) were normally reserved for collateral imperial clansmen, or gioro, as well as demoted direct imperial clansmen. Non-imperials may be granted the Gioro surname and be adopted into the imperial clan, thus the privilege of wearing the red girdle.
- The purple girdles (紫帶子; zǐdàizi) were normally reserved for demoted gioro. Uniquely, the family of Dahai, the "saint of Manchu" and the inventor of the Manchu script, was granted the privilege of wearing purple girdles, to symbolise his family as the "second clan of Manchu (inferior only to the Aisin-Gioro)".
- Enshrinement in the Imperial Ancestral Temple (配享太廟; 配享太庙; pèixiǎng tàimiào). Granted to deceased peers (and sometimes also their wives), therefore a privilege for all his descendants. They were worshipped alongside the imperial ancestors, and their descendants had the privilege of sending representatives to participate in the imperial ancestral rituals. Imperial and Mongol princes were housed in the east wing of the temple, while the others were housed in the west wing. This was an extremely high honour, granted only 27 times throughout the Qing dynasty. Zhang Tingyu was the only Han subject to ever receive this honour, while Heling was the only person to have this honour revoked.
- Bestowal of Manchu, noble or imperial surnames (賜姓; 赐姓; cìxìng). Occasionally, a non-Manchu subject would be granted a Manchu surname, or a Manchu would be granted a more prestigious surname, or even the imperial surname "Gioro", thus adopting into the imperial clan.
- Promotion within the banner hierarchy:
- A non-bannerman can be inducted into the banner system.
- A Han bannerman (汉军八旗; 漢軍八旗; Hànjūn bāqí; nikan gūsa) may be elevated into a Manchu banner (满洲八旗; 滿洲八旗; Mǎnzhōu bāqí; manju gūsa).
- A bannerman from the lower banners (plain red, bordered red, bordered white, plain blue, and bordered blue banners) can be elevated into the upper banners (plain yellow, bordered yellow, and plain white) (抬旗; táiqí). This was especially common for the imperial consorts and their clansmen.
- Court beads (朝珠; cháozhū). The court beads were part of the court uniform; the length of the beads normally corresponded to the courtier's pin. When a courtier kowtowed, the beads must touch the ground. Longer court beads were granted as a special favour regardless of the courtier's pin. This was often granted to elderly courtiers to relieve them of the physical hardship of kowtowing.
Etymology of Manchu titles
With a few exception, most Manchu titles ultimately derived from Han Chinese roots.
- Han, used by the Emperor himself and a few Mongol lords, was borrowed from the Turko-Mongol Khan, Khaan or Khagan. In Manchu, however, the word is written slightly differently for the Emperor and other Khans.
- Beile was usually considered indigenous Manchu titles, evolved from earlier Jurchen bojile, which may ultimately be derived from the Turkic title bey or beg or even Chinese bo (伯, "count").
- Beise was originally the plural form of beile, but later evolved into a separate title.
- Janggin derived from the Chinese military title jiangjun (將軍, "general"). In Manchu, however, janggin evolved into a nominal title distinct from the military office, which is translated in Manchu as jiyanggiyūn.
- Taiji or tayiji derived from Chinese taizi (太子, "crown prince"). In Chinese, it was used exclusively by heirs of imperial, royal or princely titles. In Mongolia, however, the Borjigits have long used it as a distinct title.
- Tabunang ("son-in-law") was originally the title given to a Mongol prince consort who married a Borjigit princess. It was granted to Jelme, and his descendants continued to use this title.
- Fujin (福晉) is a consort of a prince ranked junwang or above. This word evolved from Chinese furen (夫人; "lady", "madame" or "wife"), but was reserved for high-ranked ladies. Furen was used by lower-ranked married ladies.
- A-ge (阿哥) is a Manchu word meaning both "lord, chief" and "elder brother". It is derived from the Mongolic word aka, and cognate with the Turkic word agha.
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