Twenty Illustrations of the Manufacture of Porcelain, by Tang Ying 1745

12. Fashioning and Painting of Vases

"The different forms of vases and sacrificial vessels comprised in the general term of cho ch'i include the square, the round, the ribbed, and those with prominent angles. There are various styles of decoration executed by painting in colors and carving in openwork.

In copies from antiquity artistic models must be followed; in novelty of invention there is a deep spring to draw from.

In the decoration of porcelain correct canons of art should be followed; the design should be taken from the patterns of old brocades and embroidery, the colors from a garden as seen in springtime from a pavilion.

There is an abundance of specimens of the Kuan, Ko, Ju, Ting and Chun at hand to be copied; and water, fire, wood, metal, and earth (the five elements of physics) supply an inexhaustible fund of materials for new combinations of supernatural beauty.

Natural objects are modeled, to be fashioned in molds, and painted in appropriate colors; the materials of the potter's art are derived from forests and streams and ornamental themes are supplied by the same natural sources.

The sacrificial wine-vessels, tsun and lei, are of equal importance; the censers, shaped like the ancient bronzes, yi and ting, emit flames of brilliant color.

In addition to the ancient earthenware drums (wa fou), many kinds of musical pipes are now made, and the artistic skill of the color-brush perpetuates on porcelain clever works of genius."



This text was written on Imperial command in 1743 by Tang Ying, the celebrated superintendent of the porcelain manufacture in the province of Jiangxi. It is widely reprinted and the most authentic version is to be found in the official annals of the province of Jianxi, Book XCIII, folio 19-23. The first draft seems to have been written in 1735 and the version above was added to a set of twenty illustrations of the manufacture of porcelain in 1743. The actual illustrations have never been identified. Original translation from Chinese by S.W. Bushell, 1899. The text is illustrated with photos taken on location by Jan-Erik Nilsson in 1991 and 1992.