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Oriental China - Coral Red Ground

( Originally Published 1911 )

If there is another class which deserves mention it is that having a coral red ground thickly powdered it may be with white chrysanthemum leaves and flowers, decorated with joo-e-head ornaments or ornamented with deep rose, grey and white, yellow and white, pale blue and white, prunus blossom powdered upon a golden iced diaper, the emblem of the coming spring. This coral red ground—" rouge de fer"—differs from all the others in this class because it is an under-glaze decoration. It is essentially a Kang-he production, although some very fine specimens have the Keen-lung mark.

The reader has no doubt noticed the rivalry between these periods, and the values of coral red specimens are more affected by quality than perhaps by age.


The piece of coral was an emblem of the official class, and this coral-red ground is, as its name implies, an imitation of this. It is an under-glaze ground, in which the colour was derived from iron. Over-glaze enamels were used for decoration with fine effect, such as the greens, the yellows, and the reds from gold. Blue over the glaze dates from Kang-He, and it is early.

Our illustration shows a very fine cylindrical Jar, with receding neck and spreading lid with knob. The body decorated with formal scroll and leaf pattern, with a double band of conventional white lotus. The shoulder and base decorated with a broad bat d of Joo-e-shaped reserwes, bordered alternately with narrow bands of blue and grey edged with green ; the smaller space between edged with a paler green. Red reserves, so formed, decorated with conventional chrysanthemums with brilliant green leaves. On the shoulder above, four circular, green-edged, white medallions, and four oval, greenedged, red spaces ornamented with chrysanthemum flowers. A t the base a narrow band of green and red diamond rice diaper on a white ground. The neck decorated with two shaped oval red medallions, edged with grey on a speckled green ground powdered with red chrysanthemum. The reserve decorated with coiled white fire dragons (mang) among white fire-forms on a coral-red ground. Above and below this decoration, narrow bands of scroll and flower diaper patterns. Lid with a slightly decorated white knob, ornamented with similar pattern to that on the shoulder of the vase. Height, 21 in. Period, Kang-he.


The dragon is the Emperor's emblem, as the phoenix or Fong-Hoang is that of the Empress. We find the " lung" or " long" dragon of the sky, the "li" dragon of the sea, and the "kiau" dragon of the marshes. There are scaly dragons, and others winged, horned, horn-less, and rolled. The four highest ranks of princes are permitted to use the five-clawed dragon, but the fifth rank of the princes and the mandarins use a dragon or serpent with four claws. This, treated conventionally, is the well-known " mang " which is shown in the body and necks of the vase used as an illustration. The expressions, " dragon's seat," " dragon's bed," " dragon's face," "dragon's head" are easily understood when " emperor" is substituted for "dragon"

A tall, rouleau-shaped Vase, containing six circular panels with formal floral design in "rouge de fer," blue, and white, on apple-green ; the body of the vase with dragons and formal flowers in yellow, blue, green, white, and aubergine, on deep " rouge de fir." At the base is a narrow band of diaper design with black lines on green ground ; this contains four small reserves with a flower and foliage in " rouge de fer" and green on a white ground, the bordering of yellow and blue. The band separating the neck has a running dragon and clouds in blue; yellow, " rouge de fer," and white, on apple-green ; whilst the neck is treated uniformly with the body of the vase, excepting that at the top there is a narrow band of diaper pattern in aubergine, green, and black, with four small reserves containing fruit and foliage in " rouge de fer" and green on white ground. Period, Kang-he.

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