The Qianlong Emperor, who can be considered the Chinese ruler most fond of composing poetry, left around 200 surviving poems that sing the praises of ceramics. Among them are many written specifically about official wares from ancient times. In the poetry he not only studied and identified the ware and date of particular pieces, he also expressed personal views on their glaze coloring, surface coating, and traces of firing. And since many poems address ceramics from the viewpoint of "official wares," Qianlong's imperial poetry allows us to understand his thoughts on the history and development of official wares.
In particular, when the Qianlong Emperor ordered his poetry to be engraved, it was not done all at the same time. Rather, poems were sent in batches to the Ruyi Hall and Maoqin Palace specially entrusted by the Qing court for engraving, indirectly revealing Qianlong's purpose behind choosing imperial poetry to be carved. Among his choices, Qianlong's taste mostly tended towards Northern Song Ru wares and Southern Song Guan and related official wares. It shows that, in addition to late Ming dynasty trends in appreciation, Qianlong actually also sought to trace the history of Song official ceramics to form a paragon for his own wares to follow. Furthermore, porcelains engraved with imperial poetry are dated mostly after 1770, which make them capable of being correlated with records from the Imperial Workshops. This indicates that, in reality, the Qianlong Emperor's orders for porcelains to be engraved are also closely related to his active reconstruction of the Qing court collection.
In conclusion, using modern-day terminology, the Qianlong Emperor's connoisseurship views expressed in his poetry can be generally divided into the following key points: 1) quality ceramics symbolizing the virtue of the ruler, 2) different vessel shapes and glaze colors representing corresponding personality traits, and 3) the appreciation of ceramics certainly not reflecting a diversion from his more serious tasks as emperor.