(793 words)

The term chinoiserie emerged around the mid-18th century from the French chinois (“Chinese”), and it denotes a style in 17th and 18th-century European art that is informed by Chinese or pseudo-Chinese motifs and ornaments, forms and materials. However, no historical, geographical, or stylistic distinctions were made, so that Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and sometimes even Ottoman and Egyptian elements merged into a European construct of the “Oriental.”

China (“Cathay”), which was almost unknown during the rule of the Ming Dynasty (1369-1644), became in the pub…

Cite this page
Bischoff, Cordula, “Chinoiserie”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 21 March 2018 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160907

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