Whilst tidying a kitchen cupboard I came across an old plate. It has the well known design, much loved by Victorians, of The Willow Pattern.  The term "Willow" is applied generally to many of the copies of the blue-and-white porcelain imported into England from China during the last half of the eighteenth century,  For a century and a half the "Willow Pattern" was to be the stock-pattern of nearly every British Pottery manufacturer, and although at times its popularity has waned, it appears to be making a comeback. My Mother told me many years ago the story depicted on the plate. Here is that story:  

"There was once a Mandarin who had a beautiful daughter, Koong-se. He employed a secretary, Chang who, while he was attending to his master’s accounts, fell in love with Koong-se, much to the anger of the Mandarin, who regarded the secretary as unworthy of his daughter. The secretary was banished and a fence constructed around the gardens of the Mandarin’s estate so that Chang could not see his daughter and Koong-se could only walk in the gardens and to the water’s edge. One day a shell fitted with sails containing a poem, and a bead which Koong-se had given to Chang, floated to the water’s edge. Koong-se knew that her lover was not far away. She was soon dismayed to learn that she had been betrothed to Ta-jin, a noble warrior Duke. She was full of despair when it was announced that her future husband, the noble Duke, was arriving, bearing a gift of jewels to celebrate his betrothal. However, after the banquet, borrowing the robes of a servant, Chang passed through the guests unseen and came to Koong-se’s room. They embraced and vowed to run away together. The Mandarin, the Duke, the guests, and all the servants had drunk so much wine that the couple almost got away without detection, but Koong-se’s father saw her at the last minute and gave chase across the bridge. The couple escaped and stayed with the maid that Koong-se’s father had dismissed for conspiring with the lovers. Koong-se had given the casket of jewels to Chang and the Mandarin, who was also a magistrate, swore that he would use the jewels as a pretext to execute Chang when he caught him. One night the Mandarin’s spies reported that a man was hiding in a house by the river and the Mandarin’s guards raided the house. But Chang had jumped into the rageing torrent and Koong-se thought that he had drowned. Some days later the guards returned to search the house again. While Koong-se’s maid talked to them, Chang came by boat to the window and took Koong-se away to safety. They settled on a distant island, and over the years Chang became famous for his writings. This was to prove his undoing.

The Mandarin heard about him and sent guards to destroy him. Chang was put to the sword and Koong-se set fire to the house while she was still inside. Thus they both perished and the gods, touched by their love, immortalised them as two doves, eternally flying together in the sky."

This is a larger version of the well known design.





9 thoughts on “WILLOW PATTERN PLATE.

  1. Abolish arranged marriages… there you have it on a plate.
    Sunny and dry today here, but I here it is somewhat windy up your way.
    Have a pleasant weekend old chap.

  2. Some 30 odd years ago I had an Hotel and I inherited the "Willow Pattern" crockery and I actually knew the story behind it as I had enacted it together with the rest of my class in my 1st year at senior school when we had a Chinese Student Teacher.  I loved the story and loved acting in it together with the music which this teacher produced and had us shuffling along in true chinese fashion to it:)  Anyway it was so nice to have this china and I was so proud of it and my guests in the Hotel loved it also.  I taught my staff the story too and with this knowledge they treated the crockery with the respect it deserved so when I sold out my inventory of crockery was intact:)  Strange how other peoples blogs can rekindle memories – in my case two sets of memories – xx

  3. HA! I am with Suki,
    come by the Lane when you get the chance (don\’t make me beg now, ya\’ here?)

  4. Oh that photo brings back such memories of my chldhood.  We had a great array of willow pattern plates which were used for everyday use – and I remember someone telling me the story behind the pattern.  My favourite was a huge oblong meat platter with shaped edges.  The pattern on it used to fascinate me when I was young and after I had been told the story – Thanks for bringing the memories back 🙂 

  5. Morning hunny bee,
    Just came to say have a wonderful christmas…. my space by the look of it is now closed, both my old one and new one… so thats it for me… unless by some miracle they reopen it…. I may come back in the new year, but till then
    take good care of you and yours…
    love n hugs
    Eth 🙂 xxxx

  6. Mr. Laird;
    Hello from Alaska!
    I had to see what Sheila was referring to when she did her blog her Willow China dishes.
    What a bitter sweet story that is, thank the gods for seeing the beauty of love!
    And thank you for sharing!
    Well nice to meet you

  7. Well… I\’m really glad I came to read today.  I have never heard of this story …. Not even sure I would have recognized this willow pattern… but I did so enjoy learning about it today.  It is a very pretty plate.  Makes me wonder how many things have stories behind them that we never knew about.  Hope you have a great evening.. Vallerie

  8. i still have my mothers china, it brings back the story,that i was told.Wonder if it could ever sometimes be come true.

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