book of prints, book, print, facsimile

On display

This is a an early published copy of the George Henry Mason's Costumes of China, one of the oldest illustrated books on Chinese customs to be published in English. It provides printed illustrations of watercolours produced in workshops chiefly for sale to foreigners, for whom they functioned as records of the exotic.

The original leatherbound volume created by Mason is also part of the Ashmolean's collections [EA2003.4], in which the original watercolours purchased by in Canton in 1789 are pasted. This also includes the author’s manuscript together with details of the publisher’s and printer’s quotes and a newspaper cutting announcing the publication.

Although published under the title Costumes of China, these watercolours equally record trade and leisure activities.


Further reading

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

Reference URL

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