Knowledge of Chinese Culture
The word mandarin is derived from the
Portuguese mandar, to command. The term mandarin was only applied to such officials as are
called "guan" by the Chinese, and not to the subordinate class of officials. In
other words, it was restricted in its application to those officials who were entitled to
wear a button. There were nine ranks of such officials, the buttons which distinguish them
were as follows: for the first and second ranks, a transparent and opaque (ruby and coral)
red button respectively; for the third and fourth, a transparent and opaque blue (sapphire
and lapis lazuli) button respectively; for the fifth and sixth, a transparent and opaque
white (crystal and stone) button respectively; for the seventh,a plain gold one; and for
the eighth and ninth, a worked gold one.
Mandarin, when applied to language, refers to
the lingua Franca in use throughout China in official intercourse. It is very poorly
spoken by many, being mixed up with localisms; it is also the speech, in its various
dialects, in considerable parts of China.