Sunday, April 27, 2008
Chinese Celadon in Needlepoint
Almost 40 years ago, when I first began interpreting Oriental porcelains into needlepoint design (primarily the Chinese and Japanese of the mid 19th century export type) I became intrigued by the fact that there were so many repetitions of flowers, bugs, leaves, and other symbols in these beautiful pieces - so set out on another course of study into the meanings of these things. This morning, digging in a box of old canvases, I found this one - one of my very favorites, as was the oval shaped, footed compote that inspired the design. (dated ca. 1820) The first study I did years ago revealed that Celadon was the oldest known porcelain glaze, and that it originated in Korea - and went to China via a kidnapped Korean. Recently I have read otherwise - that it actually developed in China. I don't know. Anyway - this slightly bluish green is my favorite color! The design features the grasshopper (good luck) and the peony, which is the symbol for spring and also for wealth and nobility. The camelias, for winter, are also shown - and the "veins" on the background are the veins of the lotus leaf (water lily). The lotus is the symbol of summer. The border is the conventionalized "ocean waves" which is a pattern used by both Chinese and Japanese. Also in this box, I found a crumpled canvas that is almost finished in the stitching, and destined for my son, who gave me this lovely bowl about 14 years ago. (dated ca. 1850) The butterfly is the symbol of joy and fidelity, and also shows a "coin" which is for prosperity. Butterflies are rather prevalent in Chinese art - embroidery as well as porcelains. The inside of the bowl displays a typical symbol in Chinese art - the peach for immortality, and the pomegranite for fertility. I thought the whole thing would be quite a suitable choice for this son, as he had just taken the giant step and started his own law firm. I really must get busy and finish the canvas for him. He has probably forgotten about it - but it did take me 8 years to finish his dodo bird pillow. Oh well. He is used to his mama's strange ways. I might also give him the bowl to display with the stitched canvas, which will probably be framed.