A Labourer

Pasted into this leatherbound volume are the original watercolours for one of the earliest illustrated books on Chinese customs to be published in English. At the back is the author’s manuscript together with details of the publisher’s and printer’s quotes and a newspaper cutting announcing the publication.

The watercolours were purchased in Canton in 1789. They are of a type produced in workshops for sale chiefly to foreigners, for whom they functioned as records of the exotic. George Henry Mason published them under the title Costumes of China yet they equally record trade and leisure activities.

Details

Further reading

Vainker, Shelagh, ‘Costumes of China’, Orientations, 34/November, (2003), passim

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