Chinese pirate flag by unknown

mm cm in
Chinese pirate flag
Selected print option
Art prints
Print size 35.5 x 28.0 cm
Size of image:
29.9 x 23.0 cm
Frame: Unframed
Availability Ready to print

Image Details

Chinese pirate flag
Product code:
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London


Said to be the flag of the Chinese pirate Shap Ng Tsai but more likely to be a shrine hanging from one of the junks in his fleet. Most Chinese vessels had a small shrine on the poop dedicated to T'ien Hou. The characters say 'T'ien Hou Sheng Mu' (Empress of Heaven, Holy mother). T'ien Hou was regarded as a calmer of storms and protectoress of marine commerce, fishermen and sailors. The flag is painted with a depiction of Ziwei Dadi, one of the four Emperors of Heaven who assist the Jade Emperor. Ziwei Dadi is regarded in Cantonese communities as a major deity in his own right. He is seated on a mythical beast with a pillar behind him, holding a taijitu symbol surrounded by eight trigrams. The bats at the side of the hanging are a punning reference to good luck. A hoist (possibly a later addition) is placed on the right hand side.

Shap Ng Tsai's fleet of 27 junks was destroyed in a joint action by an Anglo-Chinese squadron under Captain John Charles Dalrymple Hay and Major General HwÔòáÔö┤ng on 20 October 1849. Shap Ng Tsai succeeded in escaping, although his ship and its flag were burned in this action.

Original size: 2210 mm x 2845 mm

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