Graham Leslie McCallum

The tree of happiness flowers and fruits most abundantly for the creative man

400 Chinese Motifs

400 Chinese Motifs - Graham Leslie McCallum

400 Motivos Chinos, 400 Chinese Motifs


While researching this book, I happened upon information on the Portuguese ship called the ‘Wanli’, wrecked around 1625 AD.  The ‘Wanli’ carried a cargo of Chinese Ming Dynasty porcelain for the export market in Europe.

From the briny depths of the South China Sea, divers in 2003 raised thousands of precious porcelain artefacts of incredible beauty and value. This ware was popular with the European aristocracy and merchant classes of the 17th century. The porcelain bowls and plates are decorated with fascinating motifs and enlivened with bold patterning, all in a striking cobalt-blue colouring.

Chinese art is a result of a long and rich legacy, stretching back several thousand years. This endowment is of unrivalled consistency and expression and has bestowed on this present age an unparalleled gift. The inspiration appears to be inexhaustible, and each year’s archaeological discoveries bring more wondrous artefacts to our appreciative eyes.

For the motif hunter – Chinese ceramics (like those found on the ‘Wanli’ wreck) are a veritable treasure chest. Many have found their way onto the pages of this book. Besides ceramics, I have sourced motifs from the full expression of Chinese creativity. Some of these sources are paintings, bronze vessels, jade carvings, architecture and sculpture. They are all both beautiful and functional.

While creating this book, I have mulled over in my mind the reason for the popularity of Chinese design. This art has not only been a present day favourite, but has been a perennial favourite with artists, craftsman, designers, including the public for the past 500 years. European artists have even copied artwork from well-liked Chinese exemplars, giving rise to the term ‘Chinoiserie’ for this derivative art.

I believe the reason for this favour is that Chinese styling appeals to all tastes and provides for all seasons. There is a copious complexity, to intrigue the detail-seeking mind, yet it maintains enough simplicity to award the minimalist’s sensibilities. Let’s not forget the pretty-factor, which delivers in profusion and will certainly tickle and entice the fancy of all lovers of beauty. For the historically-minded, this style’s age is intriguing; and yet amazingly, the style maintains a modernity that is sufficient for our times. If your passion is for structure or line, texture or pattern, form or shape – I maintain you will find what you seek in this publication.

Added to this appeal is the wide functionality of Chinese art and its varied topics. It lends itself generously to all the crafts and hobbies. The lush floral motifs and borders will most certainly benefit all the Needlework crafts, from Embroidery to Tapestry. So too for the Ceramic arts – the book offers a cornucopia of imagery taken from thousands of years of Chinese pottery and decoration that will enrich these creative pursuits. If you are a Stenciller, Woodcarver, Scrap booker, Leather worker, Card maker or Fabric painter, or a Teacher or Student of the Arts – this book will surely be an invaluable asset on your desk.

In addition to the awe and appreciation one feels when viewing the art of yesteryear, as one studies the art of a people, one is inevitably drawn-in closer to the creators of these wonders. This sense of closeness with your creative antecedents is further enhanced when you pick up an ink pen or brush and reproduce these wonderful motifs, line for line and shape for shape.

I know that you too will feel this connectivity with the artists and craftsmen of China. As you use their fascinating motifs and patterns in your creative pursuits, I know you will be richly inspired.

Graham Leslie McCallum


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