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William Alexander (1767-1816)
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William Alexander (1767-1816)

Chow-Ta-Zhin in his dress of ceremony

William Alexander (1767-1816)
Chow-Ta-Zhin in his dress of ceremony
pencil on paper
9 ¾ x 8in. (24.8 x 20.4cm.)
The family of the artist.
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Lot Essay

A study for the full length drawings of one of the two Chinese officials who managed the itinerary of Lord Macartney's Embassy: 'The expense incurred by their attendance on the Embassy was considerable, but ... it chiefly fell upon Chou who was very rich and well able to bear it; Wang was not so rich, and did not therefore contribute to it; but then he had the principal share of the business, in renewing and stationing the boats, hiring the porters, horses, and carriages, etc., while Chou did little else than receive the reports, write out the register, and pay disbursements.' (Lord Macartney, Journal, 25 August 1793).
The portrait was engraved as the twenty-first plate in Alexander's The Costume of China: 'Chow-ta-zhin, a Qiian, or Mandarin, holding a civil employment in the state, was, with Van-ta-zhin, entrusted by the Emperor with the care of the British Embassy during its residence in China. He was a man of grave deportment, strict integrity, and sound judgment, as well as of great erudition; having been preceptor to a part of the Imperial family. His external honours were the customary distinction of a blue ball on his cap; from which was suspended a peacock's feather, being a mark of additional rank. He is attired in his full court dress, being a loose gown of silk or satin, covering an under vest richly embroidered in silk of the most vivid colours; the square badge on his breast, and its exact counterpart on the back, is also of rich embroidery, and contains the figure of an imaginary bird, which denotes the wearer to be a Mandarin of letters, in like manner as a tiger on the badge would shew the person to be in a military capacity. The beads worn round the neck are occasionally of coral, agate, or of perfumed wood, exquisitely carved, as affluence or fancy may dictate. In his hand he holds a paper relative to the Embassy.' (W. Alexander, The Costume of China, London, 1805).

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