British ceramic lovers are used to see multiple versions of it, for others it might seem like one of the many imitations of Chinese decorations made by British manufactories in the period when Chinese porcelain items were a status symbol.

We’re talking about Willow’s decor.

The word Willow in Italian means weeping willow and is the weeping willow the core of the story of the Willow decor, a tragic love story reproduced in its key elements thousands of times on plates, cups, jars …

Willow’s legend tells of a rich Chinese mandarin with a beautiful daughter.

One day the mandarin hires an apprentice who falls accidentally and irreparably in love with the mandarin daughter. The rich lord does not believe an apprentice can be a good party for his daughter. He immediately fires him and he builds a wall around the house garden. The wall prevented the boy named Chang from seeing Koog-se, the daughter of the mandarin, she could only walk in the garden and on the edge of the pond. willow-pattern-3

One day the girl finds on the shore of the lake a shell with inside a poem and a pearl that Chang had received from her days before. It’s the sign that her lover is
close to her even if she cannot see him.

Soon the young girl is promised to marry Ta.jin, a Duke Warrior who will bring her away with his boat leaving to her father lots of jewels as dowry.

At the engagement party, Chang manage to enter the palace dressed as a servant and he reaches Koong-se room. They decided to escape, taking advantage of the confusion caused by the festivities. At the last moment the mandarin sees his daughter and his ex-apprentice running away on the bridge and he sends the guards to follow them.

Willow decor story on english pottery
Willow decor story on english pottery

The two lovers find refuge from the housekeeper, who was previously fired by the rich mandarin to be complicit in the love of his daughter with his ex-apprentice. Before running away Koong-se took the treasure chest fill with the jewels given by the duke.

This is the excuse for the mandarin, who is a judge, to accuse the boy of theft. One night the guards crash into the lover’s refuge but Chang manages to escape
by throwing himself out of the window into the river. Koong-se is desperate because she thinks the young man is drowned.

A few days later the guards go back to visit the girl and while the housekeeper distracts them, Chang rescues Koong-se and they escape on a boat. They go in a remote island and for many years they live happily. Chang becomes a famous writer. His success is also at the origin of his death. The mandarin, who had not forgotten the events, hears of him and sends the guards to kill him. He is stabbed while Koong-se is burned in the fire set by the guards to the lovers’ home. God touched by their love and their terrible path transforms them into
two free doves to fly together in the sky forever.


Have fun finding all elements of the story in the items with Willow decor and wonder how it is possible to condense in so little space a legend so rich of ideas, so tragic and modern.

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