Illustrated Album of Goldfish


Very few early Chinese works on goldfish farming exist. Pieces written on this topic generally were found scattered among old records and documents. Dating from 1848, Jin yu tu pu (Illustrated album of goldfish) is the earliest existing work with color illustrations on goldfish. The compiler was Juqu Shannong (Farmer of Juqu Mountain) of Qing. His real name and dates are unknown. The illustrator was Shang Zhaoshan (1835–83), courtesy name Yangzhi, a native of Jurong, Jiangsu. Shang excelled in painting and was a collector of bronzes and jades. In this album, he skillfully inserted his courtesy and style names in the decorative borders of the flyleaf. The book was the product of a collaborative effort, with the compiler writing about the methods of cultivating goldfish and the illustrator applying Chinese painting techniques and the Western principle of perspective to depict goldfish in unusual positions and in luxurious colors. Very few copies of this work survive. The text consists of 11 sections, beginning with origin, cultivation in ponds, cultivation in urns, breeding, species, color distinction, appearance, feed, diseases, individuality, and uses. The author uses simple and concise language, and he discusses the methods of breeding goldfish in a scientifically systematic way. The text and illustrations make the work immediately accessible. Attached to the end of the text is a catalog of the goldfish types, with 56 color illustrations. The images of goldfish appear three-dimensional. They are both brilliantly colored and lifelike, which renders the work highly enjoyable.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

金魚圖譜 :不分卷

Type of Item

Physical Description

66 folios (56 illustrations) ; 27.8 x 15.8 centimeters

Last updated: August 31, 2017