Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Endearing Legend of Blue Willow

Much of the following post is one I shared last August. It was the third post I created for Hyacinths for the Soul and since August is the month that HFTS celebrates it's 1st Anniversary, I decided it was appropriate to share this post again for the color BLUE.

If you've not yet joined in for the Anniversary Giveback, click here to enter in the drawing that will be held August 31, 2010. Winner will be announced on September 1, 2010.

The Legend

Once upon a time there lived a very wealthy mandarin who had a beautiful daughter named Hon Shee. There was also a boy named Chang who loved Hong Shee. To keep them apart, the mandarin imprisoned his daughter in the palace.
One day Hon Shee escaped, and the two lovers raced over the bridge to a waiting boat, her father in hot pursuit. They managed to elude the mandarin, reach the boat and sail away.
A storm developed, the boat capsized, and the couple were lost at sea. It is said two love birds appeared immediately thereafter ~ the spirits of Hong Shee and Chag.
~Anonymous ~

It's time again for Rainbow Summer School, and today's color is BLUE.

I'm thrilled because BLUE is one of our favorite colors to accent our home.

We have several rooms with blue walls,

wingback chairs in blue leather,

blue upholstered French bergere chairs,

dinner plates in Spode's Blue Room series, . . .

The list could go on and on.

Blue is one of those magical colors that compliments other colors. Think of the fresh feeling of the South of France that combinations of blue and yellow provide.

Or the striking complimentary combo of blue and orange . . .

And the favored patriotic American spirit of red, white, and blue.

Perhaps the serenity of blue and white speaks to you.

It certainly speaks to me. The fresh, crisp feeling of blue and white never fails to fill my senses with joy.

Homes with collections of Blue Willow always catch my attention and imagination. Though I don't personally have a collection of these age old charming ceramics, I've long admired pieces of blue and white Blue Willow in antique stores and in the homes of friends.

What I do have though is a very limited, but extremely sentimental grouping of a child's set in the Blue Willow pattern.

When my parents married in 1939, as a new bride, my mother dreamed of having her very own set of Blue Willow for her dining table. Place-settings of this fine china were far too expensive for the young couple's household budget, yet Mother must have longingly admired sets and continued to wish for a set of her own. As a surprise one day, my sweet and clever father brought home a set in miniature. It wasn't the table setting Mother desired, but she loved and appreciated the little set all the same. During our youth, my sister and I, along with our friends, hosted many a tea party with the treasured little set of Blue Willow. Unfortunately all that remains of Mother's set is this small group.

The Blue Willow pattern was first designed in the late 1700s by Thomas Minton. Over the years it has been produced by many different manufactures, and all these years later this classic pattern is beloved by many a collector.

The classic pattern portrays a Chinese legend of two young lovers. The elements within the design all have significance from the legend. The border of a zig-zag fence represents the father's efforts to separate the young lovers.

Weeping willow trees,

various fruit trees,

three figures on a bridge,

a boat,

and pagodas,

all have significance in the story of the young couple.

There are many variations of the legend, but all end with the young star crossed lovers being transformed into immortal love birds.

My Parents in 1939

Today, the few remaining pieces of this cherished child's set have a place of honor in the living room of our home. Not only do they bring me memories of happy childhood tea parties, but they also speak of the romantic days my parents shared as newlyweds. Years ago I offered to purchase a set of Blue Willow for my mother. She simply smiled and said, "I'm happy with the set your father gave me." I treasure these little dishes as heirlooms.

Who knows, perhaps this little chard of a long ago broken plate will become the topic of a future Metamorphosis Monday right here at Hyacinths For The Soul.

You'll find more BLUE at Mrs. Matlock's Rainbow Summer School.

Thank you to the ladies hosting the following weekly memes. A click on the link will take you to others participating this week. More information about each of these events can be found on my sidebar.

Blue Mondays @ Smiling Sally's

The summer we married, my husband was in graduate school, and I was employed as a teacher. We took a portion of our savings that summer and purchased a sailboat. We christened our Catalina 22, “Hyacinths For The Soul” after Saadi’s poem. Our "Hyacinths" provided years of pleasure.


  1. This is a beautiful post, Sarah! I never knew the story behind Blue Willow and I have a set!!

    Your mother and father sound like such a sweet couple...and your mother today still treasures those miniatures...true love!

    I'm still smiling!


  2. I hope they ended up a wonderful island somewhere. What beautiful blue pieces.

  3. Such a beautiful post Sarah. I love the story of blue willow and always have, but the minature set of your Mom's adds such a sentiment. It's wonderful to have our homes filled with the treasures and memories of our loved ones. I know how much I treasure mine and clearly you treasure yours.

    - The Tablescaper

  4. What a thoughtful and beautiful post! You have some wonderful blue things. I also love Blue Willow. My grandmother gave me he mother's set then bought one place setting at a time at a grocery store here. I think those mean more to me than anything.

  5. How nice to have something from your childhood especially with a gret loving story like that. I love Blue Willow. I used to own a set that I gave my son when he went to College. But I still have a few pieces and a tea set. Thanks for the story behind it....Christine

  6. Your posts are always so beautiful and the story is so sweet...the one about your mother....lovely...bkm

  7. I never knew the story behind the Blue Willow pattern. But the story behind your little set is beautiful. What precious memories those pieces must hold for you. Beautiful blue post!

  8. What an interesting Blue Willow post. Sounds like good memories.

  9. Sounds like we're both a little melancholy this week, Sarah. Your parents made a lovely couple & I'm so happy to know that you still have their cherished gift to treasure. You should print off this post & tuck it away with those items so that future nieces/nephews will understand the history of the pieces.

    I've been wanting to do a post with my scant bit of Blue Willow, but have been waiting to get a really nice white tablecloth to showcase with them. Its on my list!

    Thanks for stopping by the Gazebo House. I hope you had a chance to listen to Joshua Bell. I've got his newest CD on my list, too.

  10. Oh I love Blue Willow and enjoyed reading this post so much! I also enjoyed seeing your Blue leather chairs. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  11. Oh Sarah...I love the story of your tea sweet! You know I love blue, too! lol And I have to say how much I enjoyed seeing your green Quimper tea set as well...gorgeous! I don't remember ever seeing much green, but had never really thought about it until now! How pleased you must be to have such unusual pieces in your collection! And that tray...what a sweet gift! I hope you are having a great week!...hugs...Debbie

  12. Love the blue in that willow pattern! A real treasure.

    Love your site too - Happy Rainbow Blue,


    btw My Rainbow Blue link is here for you!

  13. I love the sweet story about your parents. Quite beautiful.


  14. I loved this post Sarah! Hearing about your parents, the story behind willow and seeing glimpses into you home, made my day!

    I know what I would do with a broken pieces of willow :-)

  15. what a lovely story ... and the willow is gorgeous!

  16. Hi Sarah, that is such a sweet love story. I love your Blue leather chairs..never saw anything like them, they are indeed "Unique" too!~ Thanks for popping over to my blue post too. Have a great day. Debbie

  17. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I had never read that legend of the blue willow. It was sweet.

    Even sweeter by far was the story of your father and the tea set. It is without a doubt, a PRICELESS possession.

  18. Oh Sarah, I love the story of your father bring your mother the child-sized Blue Willow! What a sweet story, and what a handsome couple they were. I can't believe that there is anything left of that set after it was played with by sisters and their friends, but I'm so glad you do have a few pieces of it. I love all of the blues in your home. I just know that I would love your home. Glad you'll be linking this to Favorite Things Sat. laurie

  19. Sarah,

    I just love this post!! Love blue and white and blue willow..thanks for sharing the story too! Makes me want to get out my dishes tonight! Hope you are doing well!

    Miss Bloomers

  20. Your parents picture is so precious and they sound like a lovely couple.
    I love the romantic blue willow story. I also did a post on it and transferware a few months back.
    I agree about the color works with so many colors and is in itself so soothing.

    Beautiful post Sarah!


  21. My sister and her husband have the Blue willow set (it was their wedding china) so I will make sure she sees this post.

    I love spode and was also very interested in this beautiful post. Thanks Sarah for sharing this today.

    Best wishes,

  22. It has been too long since I visited your wonderful blog, Sarah..too many ill friends, and now too many funerals..Makes one wish to live every day with joy and appreciation of beauty, love of family, and good friends..Thanks for this touching blog. Hugs,

  23. I think my daughter has a version of that story on one of her scholastic videos. It's a very moving and sad story.

  24. Love the legend you've shared and all the lovely pieces. Your post rocks!

    My link for you... WIZARD OF OZ
    Do come by to say hello if you have time!

  25. I've always loved that pattern. Thanks for sharing it in so many pictures. The accompanying stories were magical.

  26. Beautiful blue china you have, and I like that story of Hong Shee and Chang!

  27. I never knew the story behind the pattern, that is fascinating!

    Your parents made a handsome couple!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  28. These little treasures we hold from the past are more important to us each and every day.
    Your parents were is the little dish set.
    xo bj

  29. It's so wonderful to see how Blue Willow love endures. Just beautiful.

    BTW - we just launched Giveaway Friday! a giveaway party for link ups. Noticed you have one and would be most welcome to join us. Jane F.

  30. Hi Sarah!

    What a fun post! I loved the little history behind Blue Willow! I have a few cherished pieces myself. All of your blues are wonderful. and the photo of your parents is just beautiful. I can see you in them not only from your picture on here but from their smiles , I can see your fun and happy personality show through.

  31. My very first tea set was in the
    Blue Willow pattern and was given to me for my 5th birthday! I loved hearing the romantic story of the two lovers back then. I had that set for years until I outgrew my doll tea parties. I have a few pieces I've picked up while thrifting. I have a project for them if I could ever get started- in between all the other things I need to do! LOL What a lovely and romantic story of your own about your mom's tea set.....

  32. Sarah~ I loved this blue post! The history of Blue Willow and your wonderful tea set of your mothers that your dad gave her... the fact that there are only a few pieces and that you & your sister played with it makes it that much sweeter!

    Thanks for sharing this :-)

  33. Sarah, blue and white is always refreshing, one never tires of it.
    Your have such beautiful vignettes, very artistic touches, always.

  34. Happy Anniversary to your beautiful blog. I love all things blue.

  35. Sweet site, I hadn't noticed earlier in my searches!
    Continue the good work!

  36. Lovely post! Thank you for sharing the history...I've always admired the Blue Willow pattern, too!

  37. My mom collects blue willow and everything blue... going to send her here to see your blog!

  38. What a touching story about your Father's sweet gift to your Mother.
    Even though the china may have been a bit too small for her to have grown up tea parties of her own with them, I'm sure it must have delighted your Mom to watch you, your sister and friends have tea parties with them!

    Thanks for sharing, and also so glad you stopped by to visit me! Hope you'll visit again soon!

    Hugs, Sherri

  39. What a wonderful link to Rainbow Summer School.

    My Mom had this same tea set and a similar story...although her sister gave it to her! We had tea parties on that little set. I think my oldest sister has it now, but my goodness, this brought back some lovely thoughts.

    Thanks for linking. Your parents are lovely. And so was this post.


    PS. Love those blue leather chairs. Those look really luxurious.

  40. What a beautiful post. I love all the blue and white photos. And that blue upholstered french chair is gorgeous!!!!

  41. thanks for posting this.


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