Monday, February 11, 2019

Baohuanghui Badges and Medals: Kang Youwei’s Schemes to Develop Credentials and Raise Funds, 1904–1905

One of the more common artifacts of the Baohuanghui is its membership badge (huipai), which has been sold on Chinese auction sites, dug up in American archaeological sites (Butte, Montana Chinatown), and found inside the 1905 time capsule hidden in Victoria’s Baohuanghui building (shown in photo). We now have records of 22,000 membership badges produced in 1905, most of them destined for US chapters, but also Canada and Mexico. 

The Kang Tongbi South Windsor Collection includes correspondence, invoices, and other documents that describe the design, production, payment, and dissemination of the medals and badges. Kang’s daughter, Kang Tongbi, then a college preparatory student living in Connecticut, was responsible for managing production and distribution of badges in 1904-5. It was Kang Youwei himself who devised the scheme to design, produce and sell the badges.
The badges had a dual purpose. They were an overt sign of Baohuanghui membership and their sale was a way to raise funds for the association’s programs. 

Guangxu Emperor
Kang codified the badge in the 1905 Baohuanghui constitution adopted at an international congress held in New York City’s Chinatown. "All the members must wear the badge at Baohuanghui meetings or gatherings to show they are comrades. And, any member traveling to other Baohuanghui locations should wear the badge as a proof of membership . . . " 

Badges were to display both the [Chinese] national flag and Baohuanghui flag, and a portrait of the emperor. To the left of the portrait were the initials for the Chinese Empire Reform Association on the right the Chinese characters for "Baohuanghui Tongzhi" (Baohuanghui comrade).

For more details on Baohuanghui badges and their production, see this an abbreviated version of  with brief notes of Robert Worden's 2016 PowerPoint.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this site about C.E.R.A. I live in Butte MT and am with the Mai Wah Society (we did the dig that uncovered the CERA medallion here), so all this is of great interest.
    Note also the CERA headquarters in Vancouver BC.