Description of the Twenty
Illustrations of the Manufacture of Porcelain

By Tang Ying, Director of the Imperial Factory at Jingdechen,
in obedience to an Imperial edict... (1743)

8. Collection of the Material for the Blue Color

"All kinds of porcelain, whether round ware or vases, that have to be decorated in blue, whether modeled after that of the reigns of Xuande, Chenghua, Jiajing, or Wanli, require this blue color for the painting of their decoration.

The deep blue monochrome glaze also requires this blue for its preparation.

The material comes from the province of Chekiang, where it is found in several mountains within the prefecture's Shao-hsing Fu and Chin-hua Fu.

The collectors who go into the hills to dig for it wash away the earth that adheres to it in the water of the mountain streams. The mineral is dark brown in color. The large round pieces furnish the best blue and a called 'best rounds,' distinguished in addition by the name of the place of production.

It is brought by merchants to the porcelain manufactory, and is buried by them under the floor of the furnace roasted for three days, and washed after it is taken out, before it is finally offered for sale, ready for use.

The material is also found in different mountains in the provinces of Kiangsi [Jiangxi] and Kuangtun [Guangzhou] but the color produced by these kinds is comparatively pale and thin, and it is unable to supply the fire, so that they can be used only in painting coarse ware for sale in the market.

The picture exhibits only the collection of the material: the processes of preparation and roasting are not shown.


This page is based on an original translation from Chinese by S.W. Bushell, 1899, of a text 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. The version most likely to be authentic is the version 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. 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. The text as it appears here is illustrated with photos taken on location by Jan-Erik Nilsson in 1991 and 1992.