We are so much accustomed here, as well as in Europe, to ornament being applied to works of art simply to please the eye, that we are apt to think that the same rule prevails everywhere. The truth is that many of the devices we employ belong to the faiths long passed away, such as the religions of Greece and Rome, or are derived from sources so widely divergent that in combination they become incongruous and unmeaning.
Such is not, however, the case in the far East, especially in China, where each color and each flower has its appropriate meaning and purpose. In Japan, some of the designs on pottery and porcelain are derived from the history and mythology of those islands, or adapted from the quaint heraldry of the noble families ; but the art of making porcelain having been learned from China, and Chinese porcelain being much valued, we often find copies of Chinese devices on Japanese porcelain, though- more rarely on Japanese pottery.
To explain fully the numerous devices which appear on Oriental porcelain would require considerable space and more information than we at present possess ; information, moreover, of a kind not easily obtained. It must be remembered that there are three different religions in China, and that the follower of one of them is rarely able to explain the devices belonging to another. We propose, therefore, only to notice such as occur more commonly.
( Originally Published Late 1800's )