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Blue Onion (Zwiebelmuster) is a fine china tableware pattern for dishware originally manufactured by Meissen porcelain since the 18th century, but copied by other companies since the late 19th century as well.
The "onion" pattern was originally named the "bulb" pattern.
While modeled closely after a pattern first produced by Chinese porcelain painters, which featured pomegranates unfamiliar in Saxony, the plates and bowls produced in the Meissen factory in 1740 adopted a feel that was distinctly their own. Among the earliest Chinese examples are underglaze blue and white porcelains of the early Ming Dynasty. The Meissen painters created hybrids that resembled flora more familiar to Europeans. The so-called "onions" are not onions at all, but, according to historians, are most likely mutations of the peaches and pomegranates modeled on the original Chinese pattern. The whole design is an ingeniously conceived grouping of several floral motifs with stylized peonies and asters in the pattern's center, the stems of which wind in flowing curves around a bamboo stalk.
While the design most likely originated from an east Asian model, probably Chinese, it also demonstrates that the manner of strictly abstract stylization has a European influence. It is undoubtedly connected with the rhythm and rules of rococo ornamentation: for instance, the asymmetrical motif is composed according to type in various areas, and yet at first glance gives the impression of symmetry.
The onion pattern was designed as a white ware decorated with cobalt blue underglaze pattern. Some rare dishes have a green, red, pink, or black pattern instead of the cobalt blue. A very rare type is called red bud because there are red accents on the blue-and-white dishes.
Before the end of the 18th century, other porcelain factories were copying the Meissen Zwiebelmuster. In the 19th century almost all the European manufactories offered a version, with transfer-printed outlines that were colored in by hand. Enoch Wedgwood's pattern in the 1870s was even known as "Meissen". Today a Japanese version called "Blue Danube" features among the hundred most popular tableware patterns.
- Kovels: Onion Pattern
- A Brief History of Zwiebelmuster Onion Pattern Porcelain
- "Blue Danube" is number 7 in "Appendix A: 100 Most Popular Patterns" listed from the records of Replacements.com and illustrated in Shax Riegler. 2011. Dish: 813 Colorful, Wonderful Dinner Plates pp256ff.
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