Chinese Flagstaff Finial, Han Dynasty.

Sub-collection: China

Chinese Flagstaff Finial, Han Dynasty,206 BC - 220 AD, oldest flag related artifact in Zaricor Flag Collection.
This cast bronze flagstaff finial dates from the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). The Han Dynasty followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. The Han Dynasty was ruled by the family known as the Liu clan who had peasant origins. The reign of the Han Dynasty, lasting over 400 years, is commonly considered within China to be one of the greatest periods in the history of the nation. To this day, the ethnic majority of China still refer to themselves as the "Han people".
During the Han Dynasty, China officially became a Confucian state and prospered domestically: agriculture, handicrafts and commerce flourished, and the population reached over 56 million people. Paper was invented during this period. The ideas of acupuncture and feng shui were promulgated during this time. Meanwhile, the empire extended its political and cultural influence, as well as its territory, over much of Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Central Asia before it finally collapsed under a combination of domestic and external pressures.

The Han Dynasty was notable also for its military prowess. The empire expanded westward to the Tarim Basin, with military expeditions as far west as beyond the Caspian Sea, making possible a relatively safe and secure caravan/mercantile traffic route across Central Asia. The paths of caravan traffic came to be known as the "Silk Road" because the route was used to export Chinese silk.

Chinese armies also invaded and annexed parts of northern Korea (as well as establishing colonies and trading posts that eventually integrated with the locals) and northern Vietnam toward the end of the 2nd century BC. The borders near the peripheral territories were often tense with possible conflict with other states. To ensure peace with non-Chinese powers, the Han court developed a mutually beneficial "tributary system". Non-Chinese states were allowed to remain autonomous in exchange for symbolic acceptance of Han suzerainty. Tributary ties were confirmed and strengthened through intermarriages at the ruling level and periodic exchanges of gifts and goods.

A part of the Han military expansion was the tactical use of flags. Chinese armies were traditionally organized into units carrying flags of five colors; red, yellow, green, white and black. These colors had ancient religious and philosophical associations which would influence Chinese flags for centuries to come. On top of the flag pole there often was placed an ornament of some significance called a finial, this finial is likely from a Han military color.

ZFC Significant Flag

• Acquired by purchase, Chung Wing Curios Store, Hong Kong, 1990s.


Han Dynasty, Chinese Scholar, 18 November 2011, from:

Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 18 November 2011, from: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hand/hd_hand.htm

Han Dynasty, Wikipedia, 18 November 2011, from:

Finial, Wikipedia, 18 November 2011, from:

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 2.28
Length of Fly 5.25


Is it framed? no


Are there stars on obverse? no
Are there stars on reverse? no


Has a Blood Stripe? no


Nation Represented China


Fabric Metal
Comments on Fabric Cast Bronze


All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.
All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.


Condition Good
Damage Flag is used, corroded and damaged.
Displayable yes


Date 206BC to 221 AD