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China Republic - Catastrophe Relief Merit Order


drclaw
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Gents, this is a Catastrophe Relief Merit Order that I recently picked up from Barbara Radman.

Institution date unknown but either Warlord (1911-28) or Nationalist (1928-1949) era.

It came with its original wooden case with damaged clasp although not with the original ribbon. It is a Fifth Class example as denoted by the single (here, missing) metal star attached to one arm.

According to Borna Barac's excellent Reference Catalogue of ODM, the Order was awarded in five classes with the 1st Class having five attached metal stars on the arms, the 2nd Class with four, the 3rd Class with three, etc.

Edited by drclaw
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  • 7 months later...

Hi Gavin

have some interesting (hopefully :) ) additional info for your treasure ;)

It seems that this badge (medal? order?) was established in 1920 (on 9th year of the Republic) in Shanxi (a.k.a. Shansi) province by General Yan Xishan (a.k.a. General Yen Shi-shan, a.k.a. General Yán Xíshān, a.k.a. General Yen Hsi-shan) who was a governor of Shanxi at that time. I believe that the more appropriate translation for this badge will be Badge (medal? order?) for Philanthropic Donation. There are 5 classes – the class depended on the amount of the donation. 5 stars on 5 rays = 1 class. 1 star on one ray = 5 class.

Edited by JapanX
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General Yan Xishan (a.k.a. “Model Governor”) was born 8 October 1883 Xinzhou, Shanxi and 22 July 1960 (aged 76) in Taipei, Taiwan. He was a Chinese warlord who served in the government of the Republic of China. Yan effectively controlled the province of Shanxi from the 1911 Xinhai Revolution to the 1949 Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War. As the leader of a relatively small, poor, remote province, Yan Xishan survived the machinations of Yuan Shikai, the Warlord Era, the Nationalist Era, the Japanese invasion of China, and the subsequent civil war, being forced from office only when the Nationalist armies with which he was aligned had completely lost control of the Chinese mainland, isolating Shanxi from any source of economic or military supply. Yan has been viewed by Western biographers as a transitional figure who advocated using Western technology to protect Chinese traditions, while at the same time reforming older political, social, and economic conditions in a way that paved the way for the radical changes that would occur after his rule.

For more detailed info please go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_Shikai

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It looks like the obverse of the badge bears image of the mythical Chinese unicorn called Chi Lin (a.k.a. Chi-Lin). Chi Lin is a mythical Chinese creature which is similar to a unicorn. It is often known to be a dragon horse mixture since it seems to have the body of a horse and the head of a dragon. According to the traditions, looking at this creature is very auspicious and brings happiness. The mythical Chi Lin symbolizes success, prosperity, longevity and fertility.

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Hey thanks for that Nick!

Yan Xishan was certainly one of the great survivors, outlasting the fall of the Qing, the Yuan Shikai period, the Warlord era, the Northern Expedition and the Chinese Civil War. It was only when the Nationalists lost mainland China that he lost control of Shanxi.

Yan was a reformer for his time (an enlightened despot), building schools, stamping out foot binding and promoting education for women. He maintained an efficient military system that relied heavily on reservists so maintained a sizeable "standing" army at only a portion of the cost of other warlords.

Together with Feng Yuxiang (the Christian Warlord), Yan joined the Northern Expedition bandwagon, and then led a revolt against Chiang Kai Shek's Nationalist government. Yan and Feng were defeated but Yan managed to retain his province.

I will need to do more digging but it would be interesting to learn what catastrophe struck Shanxi in 1920 such as to merit a special Medal for donations.

Here are two more photos of Yan - in 1947, and in 1950 (presumably in Taiwan).

Gavin

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The 1920 Haiyuan Earthquake

The earthquake occurred on 16 December 1920 and ranks as the 8th deadliest natural disaster in human history, killing around 240,000 people.

The epicentre was in Haiyuan County, Ninxia Province. The event is also known as the 1920 Gansu earthquake (Ningxia was a part of Gansu Province when the earthquake occurred). The earthquake hit at 8.06 pm local time and was reportedly 7.8 on the Richter scale. It was followed by a series of aftershocks for three years.

Over 73,000 people were killed in Haiyuan County and more than 30,000 in Guyuan County. Damage occurred in 7 provinces and regions, including the major cities of Taiyuan (capital of Shanxi Province), Lanzhou, Xian, Xining and Yinchuan.

(source: Wikipedia)

Edited by drclaw
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Gentlemen:

While we are all gathered I have some questions regarding this medal that some of you may be able to answer. In the past, this medal has been called the Wu Pei Fu Merit Medal, The Chang Tso Lin Merit Medal, The Bravery Medal, and lastly, the Golden Lion. I love this medal, especially the red tongue with the characters that read red gall for audacious bravery. Additionally, I believe, only on the basis of the medals structure and design, that it was issued by the government. Is this correct? Gavin did some additional research on this medal but I have forgotten where it is. I appreciate any comments. Thank You.

Richard

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Hi Richard

Cool breast star!!!

Thanks for posting this rare beaty! :beer:

Any hope for photo of reverse? ;)

I believe that the correct english name for this order (!) will be Order for Extremely Bravery.

It was created and issued by Zhang Zuolin (a.k.a Zhāng Zuòlín, a.k.a. Chang Tso-lin, a.k.a (among his friends and partners in crime) "Stunted") government of Manchuria during 20s.

More info about this warlord of Manchuria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Zuolin.

It was the main (and only?) military decoration during his reign.

Usually you see 3rd class orders (71mm~63mm) on red-yellow-blue-white-black (from left to right) ribbons.

But breast star is something completely different!!!

Real rarity in amazing condition!!!

Best regards,

Nick

Edited by JapanX
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I think the answer might lie in Volume 1 No. 9 (Dec 1950) of the OMSA Journal, articled titled "The Chang Tso Lin Order".

Unfortunately, only the newer issues of OMSA are available for sale as back issues but Steve at OMSA has very kindly offered to help me track down a copy of the article.

Nick, would you know of any other published references to the Order in the meantime? I've seen it variously referred to as 'Military Merit Order', 'Medal for Extreme Bravery' or 'Chang Tso Lin Order' in different auction catalogues, but only in the briefest of references.

Gavin

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Nick, would you know of any other published references to the Order in the meantime? I've seen it variously referred to as 'Military Merit Order', 'Medal for Extreme Bravery' or 'Chang Tso Lin Order' in different auction catalogues, but only in the briefest of references.

Unfortunately I don't know any other published references. And you are right about these auction houses...

Sometimes they don't even indicate that the ribbon is wrong.

Great news about tracking down this article ;)

Cheers,

Nick

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THE CHANG TSO LIN ORDER ?

It appears that the questions surrounding this medal have not as yet been resolved. In an article that appeared in the Medal Collector in 1967 “The Chang Tso-Lin Order” By Alfred A. Miller, he states that the order was instituted by Chang Tso Lin, the so-called dictator of Manchuria. Miller states that “. . . the exact title of the order is not known.

In February of 2002, Henry Hong, OMSA 6685 wrote in “More On Chinese Warlord Awads”, JOMSA Vol 53 No. 1, that Chang Tso lin, in 1902, was recruited by the Manchu government and offered a commission as an army officer. In 1912, following the successful overthrow of the Ching dynasty, The president, Yuan Shih-Kai, appointed Chang Tso-Lin as the Commander of the 27th Division with the rank of Lieutenant General. By 1916, Tso-lin had worked his way up to Army Commander and Governor of Fengtian Province. Two years later he became Chief Officer of Manchuria and assumed the position of Chief Commander Warlord of the Fengtian Faction. The central government of the Republic of China as well as individual warlords issued various awards such as the Order for Bravery. This order has been attributed to both Chang Tso-lin and Wu Pei-fu the powerful warlord of central China.

In February 2011, Guido Muhlemann a well noted collector and member of OMSA wrote in the JOMSA forum, subject “The Golden Lion/Extreme Bravery Medal (http://www.omsa.org/forums/showthread.php?t=6390&goto=newpost):

“Although right at the moment I don’t have any information clear enough in order to ascertain what kind of warlord medal (or order) this one is, I also think that it has probably not been issued by Chang Tso-lin (Zhang Zuolin) as I have NEVER seen himself wearing that kind of medal (Or order) on any photograph I have seen of him. (Actually, I have NEVER seen somebody wearing this medal (or order) on any historical photograph I have at my disposition from the times of the early Republic of China and warlord era). . . . so, there still will be a lot of research to be done regarding this medal (or order).

Henry Hong was over to my house this past weekend and he had nothing new to add concerning this medal

I wrote to another noted Chinese medal collector who is a friend of mine, King Kwok, who currently lives in Hong Kong and asked if it were issued by Wu Pei-fu or Chang Tso-lin. His answer: “ I have no information on who actually issued this medal. If I must make a guess, I would say Wu, as he was one of the warlords who liked to award medals of his own style, i.e. not the central ones like the Golden Grain or striped Tiger”

As you can see, there are many questions that still must be resolved in regards to this medal. I think that it could be a government issue as opposed to a ‘warlord’ issue’ because it consists of a Breast Star, and at least two maybe three,lower grades or classes. I cannot recall any warlord issues that have more than one class or grade. I certainly could be wrong. Remember I thought the animal in the center was a dragon! Does anyone have a picture of the mysterious “Golden Lion?” I examined the reverse of the specimens in the Mohler collection at Stanford University and they all were smooth with no writing, stamps or seals.

Richard

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Very interesting Richard!

Actually I was thinking about your yesterday question (if Richard LaTonder asked such strange question ("strange" because of course he knows everything about this order ;)) that's for reason :)).

As I said earlier I don't have any photos, regulations or published sources on this order.

So my point of view on this order may be a traditionalist point of view (created by article in OMSA journal??? The exact text of which, by the way, I've never seen as well - only heard about it from people who knew people why read it :lol:).

I think this confusion (Wu Pei-fu? Chang tso-lin? Some other warlord?) was created by typical copycat practice of creating orders in warlord China. Different warlords (provinces) created orders with practically the same design. This (its my conjunction) in turn was a consequence of very few manufacturers available at that time which were too lazy (too economically constrained?) to develop absolutely new designs. I am sure that you remember (because I believe it was you who did great research of them in Harry Mohler Collection Hoover back in Stanford University :)) such examples as Heilongjiang warlord Wu Junsheng Medal, Shantung province naval merit medal - they have exactly the same size, ribbon and design as we observe in case of "golden lion" order - only central tablets are different). I was thinking about creating a different thread devoted to this "copycat" practice when I saw your new post :)

But of course copycat or no copycat - we don't have any hard evidence for attributing this rare order with too hieroglyph on obverse "Extreme bravery". I will look into this "golden lion", but I think my chances for success are pretty low.

Regards,

Nick

Edited by JapanX
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