good many authorities maintain that the Persians were the greatest decorative
artists of any time, and that the Chinese come very close to them. their
reputation depends largely on the wonderful colours they used. Our knowledge
of these colours was first derived from the letters and diaries of French
catholic missionaries in the 15th and 16th centuries. Hence French terms
are used largely in naming these colours, such as Claire de Lune,
Rouge de Fer, and Celadon.
of the best known is the Nankin Blue, of blue and white chinese
porcelain; this was made from a salt of cobalt, and when highly purified
gave a brilliant deep blue, such as seen in fine specimens of Kangshi.
In less purified specimens the blue tends to a greyish colour.
Blue was obtained by blowing cobalt in powder form onto the surface;
glaze applied over it gave the surface a mottled appearance. It was
largely used as background for scroll designs in gold. Mazarine blue,
somewhat similar to Nankin, was also used for the same purpose. A somewhat
deeper but more brilliant blue colour called Mohammedan Blue
was a popular colour in early times, especiallly in Persia.
too was a favourite colour for Persian pottery. it was somewhat softer
and paler than the chinese variety, used in some brilliant Ming specimens.
were much loved by the orientals, Apple Green especially. It
was used in light colour, particularily on Persian Pottery; a darker
shade being more common in China. A bluer and darker green was known
as Cucumber Green. A brilliant Emerald Green is also seen
on many pieces of of Famille Vert Chinese ware.
was the colour of the Imperial family in China, it was of a light shade
and the Chinese described it as the colour of dried bones. Tang Yellows
were a deeper and somewhat browner shade due to iron salts in the glaze.
Rose, Reds and Crimson were much used in Persian carpets and embroideries.
A red known as Iron Red (Rouge de Fer) was a favourite in Chinese
porcelain, and a Carmine pink was the prevailing colour in Famille
Rose china. Another favourite was Aubergine; it varied from definitely
pink shade, light in colour, to a purplish pink and a brownish purple.
It is present in many fine Ming specimens. A deep red, Sang de Bouef,
was also prepared from salts of copper.
all the Chinese tints suitable for modern decoration of walls and woodwork
it is probable that the delicate shades of the early Sung and Ming procelain
are going to be vogue. some of these have only recently come to our
notice, such as the delicate transparent bluish greys of the Fenching
Chinese ware, dating back to about 1000 AD. Also the delicate blues
and grey-blues of the Chun wares, the wonderful Celadons, the pale translucent
green, the light grey-green, and the somewhat opaque blue-green of Lung
Chuan, and lastly but by no means least, the fine buff shades, biscuit
colour and cream white of early Sung Porcelain.
blue, Turkey red, Bokhara Blue, Bokhara Red,
etc. are found in the Turkish, Indian and Persian rugs. The latter especially
will be found useful for new ideas for colours of a decorative type.
DOT did with historical colour on the designerpaint web site