Description of A Boschee, or Way-Clearer and An Old Woman Twisting Cotton

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.


  • Title

    Description of A Boschee, or Way-Clearer and An Old Woman Twisting Cotton

  • Associated place

    United Kingdom (place of creation)
  • Date

    1789 - 1800
  • Material and technique

    ink on paper

  • Material index

  • Technique index

  • Object type

  • Dimensions

    page 32 x 20.5 cm (height x width)
  • No. of items


  • Credit line

    Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund, the Friends of the Ashmolean Museum, and the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 2003.

  • Museum location

    refer to main record

  • Museum department

    Eastern Art

  • Accession no.


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Further reading

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

Reference URL

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