Mandarin'

is not a Chinese word, but one given by the Portuguese colonists at Maca'o to the officials called by the natives Khiouping (3 syl.) It is from the verb mandar (to command).

The nine ranks of mandarins
are distinguished by the button in their cap:- 1, ruby; 2, coral; 3, sapphire; 4, an opaque blue stone; 5, crystal; 6, an opaque white shell; 7, wrought gold; 8, plain gold; and 9, silver.

“The whole body of Chinese mandarins consists of twenty-seven members. They are appointed for (1) imperial birth; (2) long service; (3) illustrious deeds; (4) knowledge; (5) ability; (6) zeal; (7) nobility; and (8) aristocratic birth.” —Gutzlay.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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