12 Emblems of Supreme Authority

“Sun * Moon * Stars * Axe * Fu * Pair of Sacrificed Cups * Water Weed * Mountains * Five-clawed Dragon * Pheasant * Grain * Fire

These twelve emblems were embroidered onto the Chinese Emperor’s yellow silk robe during the Qianlong Period, the first six symbols on the front, the others on the back. The axe symbolized the power of execution; a Fu is a good fortune symbol; the dragon symbolized the power to guard from harm, rain, good fortune, full harvest, and protection against fire; the grain the ability to feed; and the fire, brilliance.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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