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Oriental China - Famille Jaune

( Originally Published 1911 )

An elegant combination is found in this early product, where the two prominent colours are green and yellow. Sometimes the body may have a black ground covered with almost invisible green glaze, but the main decoration is green, aubergine, and yellow, although other colours such as red, especially red triangle work, is frequently found. These pieces probably originated in the Ming period, but were recopied later. They have reserves such as those mentioned before, decorated with Buddhist emblems or with subjects such as a prince and princess of the Imperial house walking in a garden with two Ho-Ho birds, and a landscape where ladies are conversing and men are in attendance. Amongst the symbols s are to be found the official one of the branch of coral with the peacock's feathers. The diapers are very varied and the joo-e-head decoration is frequently found. The frontispiece gives a good idea of this form of decoration, and its description should be noted.

In speaking of the rare examples, yellow-ground, as well as black and green, could be ranked quite iii the first order ; in fact, they are almost the rarest kind. Specimens of these families were made at the end of the Ming period, and it is a very moot point to-day whether the fine examples, which we know, belong to the end of the Ming or the beginning of the Kang-he.


A tall square taper-shape Vase, decorated with a bold design of lotus flowers, foliage, and birds, in various greens, aubergine, and black on brilliant yellow ; on the shoulders in each corner is a Joo-e-head design in aubergine and green ; the edgings in white biscuit with black borderings. This is a very interesting decoration. The surface of the water is represented by the numenous short horizontal lines. In the water, the lotus, the sweet-flag, and other water-loving plants are growing, just as if the artist had made his drawing from the banks of an actual pond in the open air. Besides being beautiful, the lotus is the sacred flower of Buddha. Its large tulip-like flowers may be white or tinted pink, blue or yellow, and they hang over broad leaves, in shape like the nasturtium leaf. It does not lie upon the water like the water-lily, but stands up from it upon a strong stem. The drawing shows bud, flower, and seed-pod. It is the last which is usually carried as an emblem by the goddess, Ho Seen-koo, though it may be a bud or a full-blown flower. The lotus belongs to the water-lily family, and the sacred lotus was anciently used in religious rites in Egypt and Assyria, whilst the Greeks dedicated it to the nymphs. Its constant use as an emblem seems to come from its wheel-like form. Like the Chakra, or " Wheel of the Law," it typifies the doctrine of perpetual cycles of existence. In fact, the spokes of the Chakra are often lotus-shaped. Kang-he period.


An oval-shaped Jardiniere, decorated with a diaper design in brilliant green and yellow enamels. The body is divided into four quatrefoil-shaped panels containing altar utensils and vases, which are most artistically drawn and enamelled in various greens, yellows, aubergine, and black, on a white ground. The diaper pattern which forms the groundwork is the diamond design, but the double lines cutting the diamond are so arranged to form the swastika. The swastika—" the ten thousand things "—is sometimes found as a mark upon blue and white or painted Chinese porcelain of fine quality. It may occur alone, or with a border of two oblongs like a seal shape, or four swastikas may be found in a similar border. In the front of the quatiefoil shaped panel on the vases is another symbol, one of the hundred C hearts or Shows, the emblem of longevity. The curious instrument lying behind the vases is the lute wrapped in its cover. This stringed instrument consists of a board four feet long eighteen inches wide, convex above and flat below, where two holes open into hollows. There are seven strings. It is very ancient and constitutes an emblem of harmony. As Confucius writes: "Happy union with wife and chidren is like the music of lutes and harps." The other instrument represents a guitar, which was made in many forms, from the bamboo stick thrust into a cylinder of the same material, having only two strings, to the pipa, having four strings, like those of the violin. Kang-he.

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