Ink Garden of the Cheng Family, 12 juan, with Supplement of Writings by Various Personalities, 8 juan

Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Wanli period (1573–1619)

Compiled and edited by Cheng Dayue (1541–ca. 1616); illustrated by Ding Yunpeng (1547–ca. 1628), Wu Tingyu (act. 1573–1620), et al.; engraved by Huang Lin (b. 1564), Huang Yingdao (1578–1655), Huang Yingtai (1582–1662), Huang Yibin (b. 1586), et al.

Xin’an, Anhui Province: Zilan tang, 1606

White folding margin at center of folio; single-line borders; overall dimensions of volumes: 31.3 x 18.3 cm; block sizes of illustrations and texts vary; stitched binding

Inventory number: 16212

Catalogues of ink stick and ink cake designs were compiled and printed both as a record of the images used and as a means of promoting the decorative products to an elite market of scholars and connoisseurs.  The Cheng shi mo yuan is the most famous example from the Ming dynasty.

While most of Cheng's ink catalogues were printed in monochrome black, there exist a number of rare sets notable for having introduced multicolored prints.  For certain editions of his encyclopedic compendium, Cheng even included biblical images obtained through Jesuit missionaries.

This set, printed in color, comprises 12 juan of the catalogue proper in six subject groups: "Works of Natural Forces," "Earthly Illustrations," "People and Officials," "The Essence of Things," "The Confucian Repository," and "Buddhist and Daoist Priests."  The catalogue of designs is followed by eight juan of collected writings.