Chinese cloisonné is amongst the best known enamel cloisonné in the world.
Cloisonné, also called copper padding thread weaving enamel, is a kind of traditional enamelware, known as ‘Jingtai Blue’ in China. The earliest written record of cloisonné yet found in China is in Yuan Dynasty (1206AD—1368AD), but it reached its heyday in Ming Dynasty (1368AD－1644A.D). It is so called because ‘blue’ is the typical color used for enamels and ‘Jingtai’ is the title of the Ming Emperor’s reign. Brilliant in color and splendid in design, they enjoy a high reputation both at home and abroad.
Process of making cloisonné
The process of making cloisonné is rather complicated. It begins with the casting of bronze into different shapes of vases, jars, bowls and the alike, to which flat bronze wires are then affixed in decorative patterns. Enamels of different colors are applied to fill the cloisonné or hollows. Each cloisonné piece is fired three times with a fresh coat of enamel each time. After being fired, the pieces are ground and polished, and look to be gilded. Ceramic Glaze Stains used in cloisonné are various, including light blue, sapphire blue, red, light green, deep green and so on, which made cloisonné full of ornamental value.
It’s said that there was a fire taking place in imperial palace in the first year of Yuan Dynasty. All of the treasures were destroyed in the fire; however, a vase is intact and shining. Officials were amazed about that, and dedicated it to the emperor. The emperor is so fond of it and unwilling to part with it. It’s said that all the treasures were melted in the fire and became the vase, which is current cloisonné.
Development Since 1949
Since 1949 cloisonné craftsmanship has undergone great development in two respects. First, the color range of enamels has been extend to pea green, rose purple, brown, egg yellow, azure and golden color. Most cloisonné pieces now are made with polychrome, and polished to create various tones. Secondly, the design has been improved by borrowing from patterns found in old silks.
Became National Gift
During the APEC summit in 2014, cloisonné was used as national gift from Chinese president Xi Jinping to other countries’ leaders. The exquisite coloring skill and craft received full of praise from other countries leaders.