Blue Willow

Part II

In the last article we covered the origins of Blue Willow patterns now let's look one of the original folklore tales that has accompanied the pattern through the years. First we need to look at a poem that is also a part of the lore.

'Two birds flying high,
A Chinese vessel, sailing by.
A bridge with three men, sometimes four,
A willow tree, hanging o'er.
A Chinese temple, there it stands,
Built upon the river sands.
An apple tree, with apples on,
A crooked fence to end my song.'

This poem is supposed to relate to a love story from China as is remissence of all love storys of the princess and the commoner falling in love as told below.

It tells of Knoon-shee, a lovely Chinese maiden, whose affections were bestowed upon her father's secretary, Chang, but who was commanded by her parents to wed a wealthy rival suitor. She refused to comply with their wishes, whereupon her enraged father locked her up in the little house just visible on the left of the temple. From here she contrived to send a message to her lover, 'Gather thy blossom, ere it be stolen.' Thus encouraged, Chang succeeded in entering the apple orchard and carrying off his beloved.So we see them hurrying over the bridge. Knoon-shee with a distaff, and Chang carrying her box of jewels, pursued by the angry father brandishing a whip. The lovers made good their escape in the 'little ship sailing by' and landed on the island, which can be seen on the left of the picture, where they took refuge in the little wooden house. But the father and discarded suitor tracked them and set fire to the house while they were sleeping and so the lovers perished. The next morning their spirits rose in the form of two doves and we see them, with out-stretched wings, flying off to the realms of eternal happiness.

Perhaps this explains all the visuals going on in a fully placed piece of Willow or perhaps it was just the engraver and the person in charge of the pattern design adding chinese designs until the plate was full. I like to think it was the chinese maiden who made the design possible. Of course one will never really know but it makes Blue willow an interesting china to collect.

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