Cloisonné mandala

From China
Qing dynasty, AD 1772

Highly decorated model building, representing a Buddhist mandala

This miniature building represents a Buddhist mandala in three dimensions. Cloisonné mandalas were popular under Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1736-95). This one can be dated by an inscription. It is inlaid with coral and has bells of jade and silver.

The cloisonné enamel technique was imported into China from Byzantium. At first it was thought to be vulgar and garish in China, but it eventually became more popular, and the Chinese perfected the technique in the fifteenth century. Some superb vessels were made for palaces and temples. Some of the vessel forms were borrowed from ancient Chinese bronzes. Other shapes, and some of the motifs, resemble the contemporary porcelains.

In technique, cloisonné can be compared to both fahua and doucai porcelain, which appeared in the fifteenth century, apparently inspired by cloisonné.

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More information


J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Height: 56.000 cm
Diameter: 41.000 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1991.3-28.1



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