Chinoiserie : a western vision of the east

September 16, 2017


Anything that gives off a vibe of old-world mystique makes its way into our creative mix. This precisely explains our fascination with time-honored crafts and techniques. One such jewel that we recently unearthed from our craft casket was Chinoiserie.

                                                                 Image source: Tulips

You may have caught this French word in the pages of glossy interior and fashion magazines. And while, you may have not been able to commit this word to your memory, the enchanting images of ceramics and textiles lathered in decorative Chinese-esque motifs, however, will surely spring to mind.

                                                                 Image source: Tulips

Chinoiserie comes from French, which means ‘in the style of Chinese’. Despite the word’s semantic suggestion of China, the art form is not of Chinese or Asian provenance. Surprising, isn’t it? So where does it actually come from? Chinoiserie is essentially an exotic European vision of the art and culture of East Asian countries including China, Japan, India, and Korea.

So if the art borrows stylistic elements from other East Asian countries, then why does the word only acknowledge China? For this, we’d need to go back in time, as far as 13th century. A swashbuckling bloke by the name of Marco Polo had voyaged all the way to Asia. The fascination with the East, from the true sense, started with his expedition.