Chinese Cloisonne Creates Magic

Even though they are uncommon in the ordinary households, you will get a glimpse of them in plenty of Hollywood movies made on a Far eastern theme. The art form of Chinese Cloisonne bears a true oriental flavor. It is a decorative art of applying enamel of all colors to the surface of a copper or bronze object. It is called the 'Jingtai Blue' in China, as blue is the dominant color adopted for enameling and cloisonné became prevalent during the reign of Jingtai (1450--1456) in the Ming dynasty. There is a great variety of products, such as vase, jar, bowl, plate, box and ash-tray. They are brilliant in colors and splendid in design.

Chinese cloisonné originated in Beijing during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368). In the period titled 'Jingtai' during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the emperor who was very much interested in bronze-casting techniques, improved the color process, and created the bright blue that appealed to the Oriental aesthetic sense. After a processing breakthrough, most articles for his daily use were made of cloisonné; later on cloisonné became popular among the common people.

During the reigns of Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), cloisonné improved and reached its artistic summit. Colors were more delicate, filigrees more flexible and fluent, and scope was enlarged beyond the sacrifice-process wares into snuff bottles, folding screens, incense burners, tables, chairs, chopsticks, and bowls.

Cloisonné manufacture is comprehensive and sophisticated, combining the techniques of making bronze and porcelain ware, as well as those of traditional painting and sculpture. When making the cloisonné, firstly, use the red coppery to make the body, secondly, stick the pattern on the bronze body by oblate and thin brass wires, then fill the inlay pattern by enamel glaze material in different colors, the last procedure is the firing over and over, polishing and gilding. We may say, the technique of cloisonné is used not only the bronze crafts, but also the porcelain crafts, meanwhile, fetching in plenty of traditional and carving technique, which is the combination of Chinese traditional arts.

In Beijing as well as other cities, most shops in hotels as well as tourist stores sell cloisonné articles, which can be as big as sacrificial utensils, screens tables and chairs, and as small as chopsticks, earrings, candy boxes, toothpicks and smoking tools. They are works of art as well as articles with use value. Craftsmen have late developed a multi-coloring technique for the making of cloisonné, which has resulted in more refined, and gorgeous products.