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The cups, bowls, spoons, teapots, &c., form a choice and extensive collection, and embrace many patterns entirely new to us. Some of the cups are scarcely thicker than a wafer, and almost transparent. They are of the tiniest dimensions, and, with teapots to match, seem more. fitted for the use of Queen Mab and her troop, than for beings formed in a grosser mould. There are several teapots of white copper, with an interior lining of stone.
The porcelain manufacture undoubtedly had its origin in China, and we must, therefore, hold ourselves indebted to the Chinese for all that rich variety of useful and ornamental chinaware articles, which load our tables, and adorn our parlour and cabinets. It was introduced to the knowledge of Europeans by that famous Venetian traveller, Marco Polo. The first furnace on record was in Keang-sy, which dates as far back as the commencement of the seventh century of our era. King-tse-ching, a place near the Poyang lake, is now the most celebrated for this manufacture. The factories were commenced there about A. D. 1000, and have increased to the number of several hundred. Staunton says that the flames which issue from them cause the place to appear at night like a vast city enveloped in a general conflagration. The spectacle is terrific and sublime. The furnaces give employment to the male working portion of a population said to amount to a million. The division of labour is carried to its acme. A teacup, from the time when it lies embedded in its native quarries, till it comes forth in its perfection from the furnace, passes through more than fifty different hands. The painting alone is divided between a half dozen persons, one of whom sketches the outline of a bird, another of a plant, a third of some other figure, while a fourth fills in the colours. The brilliancy of their colouring has never been surpassed;
but the designing is not, as a general thing, to be commended. The reason probably is, that no higher wages are paid to those who labour in this department of the manufacture, than to those who perform the coarser operations. It is perfectly obvious, from an inspection of the articles embraced in Mr. Dunn’s Collection, that the excellence of the porcelain manufacture has been on the decline for the last three centuries. The deterioration, as well as the high degree of perfection it had then attained, are easily explained. The Emperors who flourished about that period, encouraged the manufacture by munificent premiums on the most beautiful specimens, and by largeannual orders for the finer wares. A premium of 15,000 tael, or more than $20,000 was bestowed on the manufacturer of the best specimen; 10,000 tael on him who produced the second-best ; while third-rate excellence received a reward of 5,000. The Emperors no longer bestow any special encouragement, and hence the decline of competition, and consequently of excellence. The origin of the word porcelain, or porcellana, may not be generally known. Marsden, as quoted by Davis, shows that it was applied by the Europeans to the ware of China, from the resemblance of its fine polished surface to that of the univalve shell so named ; while the shell itself derived its appellation from the curved shape of its upper surface, which was thought to resemble the raised back of a porcella, or little hog.
XXIV. The Export Case.
This case, which follows immediately those containing the porcelain manufactures, has been so named because it contains articles made only to be exported. They are japanned boxes, writing desks, numerous stands, and a pair of work-tables. We fear they have caused, and will cause, many a female heart to indulge desires not quite consistent with the tenth commandment. The richness of the gilding and the elegance of the entire work cannot certainly be surpassed. The work-tables, which are perfectly well proportioned and beautiful in themselves, are provided each with a complete apparatus in ivory, suited to a lady’s wants, and carved in the most delicate and tasteful style.
At one end of this case is appropriately suspended a foreign vessel's chop. This is a port-clearance from the Viceroy and Hoppoo.” It states the captain's name, the tonnage and cargo of the vessel, and the compliance, on the part of the former, with the customary port requisitions. It requires the commander of the fort to allow the ship to pass unmolested, and, in case of accident befalling her any where on Chinese waters, it enjoins upon the mandarins to render every aid in their power, free of all charges. This must certainly be regarded as a liberal policy. Before a chop can be obtained, the Hong merchant to whom the vessel has been consigned, must certify to the proper officers that all the necessary conditions have been complied with on the part of her officers, and that no debts remained unpaid.
This case is to receive several other ornamental articles.
* Chief custom-house officer.
XXV. Fifth Wall Case on the south side.
Here we have four models of the summer-house, so common in China, with their scalloped roofs, gilding, painting, &c. Three of them are two stories high. They are surrounded with colonnades, and have a cool, inviting appearance. One is very showy, and affords a good specimen of the Chinese mother-of-pearl windows. These ornamental pavilions are in every garden. They often stand in the midst of a sheet of water, and are of course approached by bridges. They must be delightful lounges for a summer evening.
This case contains, besides the pavilions, a model of a one-arched bridge; and a small, but highly ornamented, domestic shrine, with three gilt idols. A family shrine, of some kind, is found in every house and sanpan. These paraphernalia of heathenism cannot be contemplated by a Christian mind without a sigh over the moral darkness in which they have their origin, and the breathing of a heartfelt prayer that the true light may speedily enlighten the nations.
XXVI. Two Wall Cases containing Models of Boats.
The author of the Stranger in China says, that the Chinese boats may be divided into two classes, those that have eyes and those without them. To the former class belong the military and trading junks, that navigate the “great sea.” Of these we have no model in Mr. Dunn's Collection, but there is an exact representation of them in a painting on one of the pannels of the screen-work, before noticed. They are nearly in the shape of a new
moon, and as clumsy a craft as could well be contrived. The Emperor not only affords no encouragement to improvement, but actually puts a price on the opposite, in the exaction of foreign port-duties from junks constructed on improved principles. These vessels have always a great eye painted on each side of the bows. This usage had its origin probably in some superstition. If a Chinese is questioned as to its cause, his reply is, “Have eye, can see; can see, can Saavez : no have eye, no can see; no can see, no can Saavez.” w The variety of craft used upon the inland waters of China is very great. Of most of the different kinds we have models in the two cases before us. There are, for example, the sanpan, or family boat; a boat used by the wealthy for the conveyance of themselves and families; the chop, or lighter, used in transporting merchandise between Canton and Whampoa ; a small boat employed on canals in the northern part of the empire; two canalboats of those in common use; and a mandarin boat, or revenue cutter. These all appear well contrived for the purpose to which they are applied, and are by no means destitute of beauty. They are provided with bamboo sails, used only occasionally, and the rudders are universally perforated with small holes, which may be set down as a wonder for the wise. They are generally propelled by sculling, a method which is made absolutely necessary by the number of boats always in motion. The skill with which the Chinese perform this operation confirms the old proverb, that “practice makes perfect;” for the boat is made to dart forward at a rapid rate, and in a line as direct as any well-managed sail vessel could describe. The foreign sailors sometimes try their skill, but make a sorry business of it: “no can do.” All the models of boats in Mr. Dunn’s Collection,