Contents Chinese Porcelain
Trees, Flowers, and Fruits
Chinese Porcelain not painted
Chinese Porcelain with Colored Glazes
Crackle, plain and with colored glazes
Decorated with white slip
Painted in Colors under the Glaze
Blue and white
,, Indian china
Blue and other colors
Red and white
Painted in COLORS overWhole the GLAZE
Red and white
Painted on biscuit
Partly painted, partly glazed
Famille chrysanthemum- peonies
With blue under the glaze
With blue enamel
Whole colored rose
Rose and other tints
With feather Border
With white enamel borders
Tobacco leaf pattern
Decorated with ornaments in high relief
With foreign designs
Decorated in Europe
DECORATING with China
Paste. The vessel as it leaves the potter’s hands before being baked.
Biscuit. The paste after it has been baked but not glazed.
Glaze. The composition put upon the paste or biscuit to give it a vitreous appearance. It may be plain or colored.
Slip. A white porcelain composition applied as a decoration on colored grounds.
Celadon. Shades of green resembling jade.
Celadon. A glaze of any color which hides the substance of which the vessel is made.
Camaieu. Monochrome painting varied only by the effect of chiaroscuro. Applied generally to blue and white.
Pierced. Ornamentation by means of perforation.
Seggars. The clay boxes in which the china was put to protect it from injury during the process of firing.
SpurMarks. The mark left by the clay pillar employed to prop up the piece while in the kiln.
Enamel. The color when applied mixed with glaze.
Enameled Porcelain. When the entire surface is covered with enamel colors.
Religion, as might be expected, has exercised a great influence on Chinese art, and we must therefore bestow some little attention on this complex question. It has been said by M. Von Brandt that a Chinaman is born a Confucianist, lives as a Taoist, and dies as a Buddhist, which simply means, that while a nominal adherent of the old State religion, of which ancestral worship is a part, he is all his life very much given to superstitious practices, and at death is surrounded with the ceremonies of Buddhism.In speaking of these three religions merely as philosophical systems, the Chinese say they spring from the same source, and express their meaning by drawing the figures of the three supposed founders standing round the mouth of a well. In some temples representations of Buddha, Lao Tsze (Laou Keun), and Confucius are exposed for adoration, which trinity is designated as Seng-Tao-Ju, Sing being the Buddhist, or vegetarian ; Tao the Taoist, who follows the right way ; Ju the Confucianist, or man of letters. It is, however, a mistake to class Confucius among the founders of a religion, as the old State religion existed long before his time, and he, as well as his disciples, never did more than recommend a strict observance of its rites, their teaching being simply philosophical. Here it is not the dogmas of the three religions of China, but their outward forms and ceremonies, likely to serve as motives for the artist, that we have to do with, and it is with a view to distinguishing between their deities, priests, and other figures, as well as to the better understanding of their symbols, that the following particulars, taken from the earlier writers on China, are necessarily of interest.
This consists of certain rites and ceremonies which are laid down in the code of the Empire. There is no priesthood ; the emperor, as ” Son of Heaven,” alone officiates with offerings (chiefly silks) and incense, surrounded by his nobles and officials in their court dresses. The altar to heaven is round, that to earth is square. When the emperor worships heaven, he wears robes of an azure color in allusion to the sky ; when the earth, then his robes are yellow ; when the sun, he wears red ; when the moon, his dress is white. Women are not allowed to be present except at the ceremonies in honor of the patroness of silk, when the empress and her ladies of certain rank take part. The Emperor Kang-he, in his correspondence with the pope, stated that it was not the visible heaven he sacrificed to, but the true creator of the universe. As the emperor worships heaven, so the people worship the emperor ; the vacant throne, or yellow screen, are equally worshipped with his actual presence ; an imperial despatch is received in the provinces with offerings of incense and prostration looking towards Peking, while no person may pass the outer gate of the palace on horseback, or in any vehicle. The great principle of the Chinese Government is submission to parental authority, to the emperor as father of the nation, and to the individual as head of his family. From this springs the custom of ancestral worship, which has ever been inculcated by their philosophers and upheld by each successive dynasty, until, by long use, the rites offered at the family shrine have become the mainstay of the people, who believe the spirits of those who loved them to be the power most likely to protect ” and prosper them. The”Hall ofAncestors may be a mere shelf or shrine, a room set apart for the purpose or a separate building, according to the means of the family. A tablet, about twelve inches long and three inches wide, is called shin chii, or house of the spirit, having the name and date of birth carved in the wood, while in a receptacle at the back is placed a paper, giving the names of the higher ancestors of the family. These tablets are ranged in chronological order, and before them incense and papers are burned daily, the members of the family rendering homage in the usual way. About the April, pai shan, or “worshipping at the is hills,” observed, when men, women, and children alike visit their family tombs, carrying offerings and libations, with candles, papers, and incense for burning, there to offer their prayers with the prescribed ceremonies ; the graves are repaired, and long strips of red and white paper placed back and front, held down by pieces of turf, to show that the accustomed rites have been duly performed. The Jesuits considering these observances harmless,tolerated them in their converts; but the other Roman Catholic missionaries who arrived later, jealous, perhaps, of their success, complained to the pope, who decided against the Jesuits, which led to the expulsion of the monks of all varieties.
The sect of the nationalists, or Tau-kia, was founded by Lao Tsze, or Lau Kium, who is believed to have lived about the same time as Confucius. The legend is that he was carried eighty years before birth, so was born with white hair and eye- brows, hence the name Lao Tsze, or ” old boy,” and afterwards ” venerable He seems prince.” Lau or Laou Kium, that to have taught contempt of riches and all worldly distinction, Keun, is, advocating the subduing of the bodily passions. His followers, however, as time went on, set themselves to discover the elixir of life, and so degenerated into a species of alchemists, professing the science of magic, and pretending to have dealings with spirits. During the Tang dynasty they were in great and received the title of ” Doctors.” Some Heavenly power, of the priests reached the highest honors in the State ; since that they have been alternately favored and persecuted, being at present the least popular of the three religions. The priests of the sect live in temples with their families, cultivating the ground ; but many lead a wandering life, supporting them- selves as best they can by the sale of charms and medical nostrums. They shave the sides of the head, the rest of the hair being fastened on the top of the head in a coil by means of a pin ; they may also be recognized by their slate-colored robes.
called in China the religion of ” Fo,” was introduced into that country about the year 65 of our era, and the favorable reception it met with was in great measure due to its tenets allowing the incorporation of strange deities, and even permitting the worship of same by its priests, who were thus easily able to adapt themselves and their religion to the use of the Chinese. The Buddhists and Romish Church are alike in the monastic habit ; the use of holy water, rosaries, candles, incense, the ordinances of celibacy and fasting, reciting masses for the dead, worship of relics, and canonization of saints ; both teach a purgatory, and use a dead language for their liturgy. The priests shave the entire head as a token of purity ; they are, or profess to be, vegetarians, wear no skin or woolen garment, live by begging, the sale of incense sticks, charms, gilt paper and candles, the alms of worshippers, the fees for services at funerals, the feeding of hungry ghosts on All-Souls’ Day, or other of the many services performed. They also derive some income from the cultivation of temple grounds, the entertaining of strangers, and the profits of theatrical exhibitions. The priesthood is perpetuated chiefly by the purchase of orphans and poor children, who are brought up in the temples or monasteries. The few nunneries that exist are nearly all dedicated to the ” Queen of Heaven.” The sisters may have become so by self-consecration, or by purchase when young, but the feet of girls so purchased are not cramped. Nuns shave the whole head ; novices have the front part only shaved, the back hair being plaited in a queue. The nuns dress very much in the same way as the monks, wear clumsy shoes, long stockings drawn over full trousers, and short jackets. Dr. Morrison ” Buddhism in China is decried says, by the learned, laughed at by the profligate, yet followed by all.” This does not apply to Mongol Tartary, which has remained Buddhist, although the emperors of the present Tartar dynasty are, as we have seen, head of the State religion of China, and the indifference displayed by the Government towards Buddhism in China proper becomes quite altered in Tartary.
seems to have been recognized as the religion of a considerable part of the population soon after the Mongol conquest in the thirteenth century, and it meets with perfect toleration at the present day, its professors being admitted to Government offices. The native Mohammedans are chiefly in the north and west of China, but it is not through them that we find the trace of this religion on porcelain, so much as in pieces made for export to India, Persia, etc. In its hatred of idolatry, the Koran forbids the depicting of anything in earth or heaven, which has forced art into very narrow channels, limiting it to patterns such as we find on Turkey and Persian carpets. To meet this difficulty, the porcelain had to be specially decorated, and the outcome was those conventionalized flower and other known as ” the better received in that they were perhaps not quite orthodox. The Persians are not over strict, while many of the Mohammedans of the East hold that it is only statuary, and not pictures, that the Koran forbids.
has left little mark on the ceramics of China ; for, although the Jesuit or other European influence is very clearly indicate in the later styles of decoration, but few pieces display biblical subjects or Christian emblems, and such are known as ” Jesuit “China.Chinese history is more voluminous than interesting, being little better than a barren chronicle of facts and dates. “Instead ” had any part in the affairs of the world, they speak only of the emperors who then reigned.” It is the legends of these emperors that we find so often depicted on porcelain, the shortcomings of the historian being amply made up for in the drama, poetry, and fiction of the country, which afford to the Chinese artist a never-failing source from which to draw his subjects.
DRAWING AND PAINTING.
The fine arts seem never to have been so highly esteemed among the Chinese as literature, and it may be that the small amount of encouragement accorded to drawing and painting accounts for the, in some respect, backward state of these arts in China. Perspective and shading are the two points in which they appear to European eyes to fail most; but as Chinese views in most matters are diametrically different to those of Europeans, their artists have no doubt been prevented by national taste and prejudices from moving out of the groove in which they have worked for centuries. Mr. Barrow states : ” When several portraits by the best European artists, intended as presents for the emperor, were exposed to view, the mandarins, observing the variety of tints occasioned by the light and shade, asked whether the originals had the right and left sides of the figure of different colors ; they considered the shadow of the nose as a great imperfection in the figure, and some supposed it to have been placed there by accident . The most successful of their decorations on porcelain are those in which perspective and shading are not called into requisition. In the painting of insects, birds, fruits, flowers, and ornamental patterns and borders, they excel; but before pursuing this subject further, we had better glance at the sources from which the Chinese artists derived their inspiration.
Zhengtong 1436 ~1449
Jiaqing 1796 ~1820
Chenghua 1465 ~1487
Jingtai 1450 ~1457
Taichang 1620 ~1620
Shunzhi 1644 ~1661
Kangxi 1662 ~1722
Yongzheng 1723 ~1735
Qianlong 1736 ~1795
Daoguang 1821 ~1850
Xianfeng 1851 ~1861
Tongzhi 1862 ~1874
Guangxu 1875 ~1908
Xuantong 1909 ~1911
DIFFERENT STYLES OF WRITING.
The Chinese have a great admiration for their written character, and make use of inscriptions for ornamental purposes. On some pieces of porcelain this is the sole means of decoration employed. Chinese philologists arrange all the characters in their language into six classes, called luhsliu, or six writings, the first of which were picture hieroglyphics, from which the others sprung. These characters simple and compound, the Chinese have six distinct styles of writing, “varying in clearness,” says Professor Douglas, “from the square character used in books of the present day, to the seal and grass, or cursive characters, which are noted for their obscurity ; but above and beyond these six styles of writing, Chinese penmen not infrequently allow their imaginations to run riot when engaged in fanciful or ornamental pieces of calligraphy.” An extraordinary specimen of this quaint taste is to be seen in the Chinese library of the British Museum, where there is a copy of the Emperor Keen-lung’s poem on Moukden, printed both in Chinese and Monchoo in thirty-two kinds of strangely fanciful characters”,The following is taken from the ” Middle Kingdom,” “The Chinese regard their characters as highly elegant and take unwearied pains to learn to write them in a beautiful, uniform, well-proportioned manner. Students are generally provided with a painted board, upon which they practice with a brush dipped in blackened water, until they acquire the easy style and symmetrical shape so difficult to attain in writing Chinese. The articles used in writing, collectively called wan fang sz pau, or four precious things of the library,’ are the pencil, ink, paper, and ink-stone. The best pencils are made of the bristly hair of the sable and fox, and cheaper ones from the deer, cat, wolf, and rabbit. A combination of softness and elasticity is required in the pencils, and those who are skilled in their use discern a difference and an excellence altogether imperceptible to a novice. The hairs are laid in a regular manner, and when tied up are brought to a delicate tip ; the handle is made of the twigs of a bamboo cultivated for the purpose. The ink, usually known as India ink, is made from the soot of burning oil, pine, fir, and other substances, mixed with glue and isinglass, and scented. It is cast or pressed into small oblong cakes or cylinders, usually inscribed with a name and advertisement ; and the best kinds are put up in a very tasteful manner. A singular error formerly obtained credence regarding this ink, that it was inspissated from the fluid found in the cuttle-fish. When used, the ink is rubbed with water upon argillite, marble, or other stones, some of which are cut and ground in a beautiful manner. Most of the paper used is made from the bamboo by triturating the woody fibre to a pulp in mortars after the pieces have been soaked in mud,and then taking it up in moulds. The pulp is sometimes mixed with a little cotton fibre, and inferior sorts are made entirely from cotton, or from the bark of the paper tree (Broussonetia). The paper made from bamboo is soft and thin, of a yellow tint, and when wetted has little consistency ; no sizing is put in it.”