Chinese Flag (AAA0727)

Object name: Flag
We have 17 objects of this type online
Flag (AAA0727) Repro ID: L0157
L0157, Chinese Flag
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
About our images
Artist/maker: unknown
Date made: 1857
Place made: China
Materials: silk; cotton; hand sewn; satin; painted; gilded
Measurements:  1574.8 x 1727.2 mm
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection

Chinese flag acquired by Captain Charles Fellowes (1823-1886) during the capture of Canton, 29 December 1857. The City of Canton was attacked by a combined British and French force. On the 29 December, the French and British naval brigades stormed the city by scaling the walls. The French were the first to reach the top, but Fellowes is credited as being the first of the British to get over the city walls a minute or two later. The flag was presented to Greenwich Hospital by Queen Victoria in 1859.

The flag is hand sewn and made of white satin-woven silk, with a cotton pole sleeve with ties. The design shows a winged tiger made of applied gold foil with the details painted in black. The animal has green eyes and is holding lightning flashes. The border is decorated with tongues of flame.

Similar flags are shown flown by vessels of the Imperial fleet, see 'The Kangxi Emperor's southern inspection tour' Nanjing to Jinshan, 1698. Tiger flags also seem to have been carried on land by the escorts of important individuals.


Second China War, 1857-1860 ()

A confrontation between Sir John Bowring and Commissioner Yeh of Canton led to the British attacks on the city and its forts. Due to Chinese resistance the British were obliged to withdraw. Following the arrival of reinforcements in March 1857 the navy began operations against Chinese forces in the Canton River. Between 70 and 80 junks were captured at Fatshan Creek on 1st June. Canton (Guangzhou) was captured and Yeh arrested on 5 January 1857. Following an attack on the Taku (Dagu) forts an inconclusive peace was signed in May 1858. Resumption on hostilities in 1860 resulted in a second assault on the Taku Forts on 21 August and the capture of Peking (Beijing) on 25 October.