The Letters of Père
Being the first detailed accounts on the manufacture of Chinese
porcelain to reach the Occident.
Père Francois Xavier d'Entrecolles lived from 1664 to 1741.
He was a Jesuit missionary who traveled to China in 1698, where
he studied some of the secrets of porcelain manufacture. His letters,
written in 1712 and 1722 were amongst the first accounts available
in the West on Chinese porcelain and helped to fuel the European
craze for porcelain and the search for the 'Arcanum', or the ‘secret’
formula for porcelain. According to some sources, d'Entrecolles
inadvertently mixed up the names of the clays, probably swapping
the proportions of kaolin and petuntse - surely a minor error!
Unknown to d'Entrecolles, Böttger had already unraveled the
secret of porcelain manufacture, leading to the establishment of
the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in 1710.
The following letters are translated from the French and are extracted
in their English version from William Burton's Porcelain, It's
Art and Manufacture, B.T. Batsford, London, 1906. Original spelling
has been retained and may differ from modern spelling. e.g. 'Ching-tê-chên'
is today referred to as 'Jingdezhen'.