- Museum number
Large cloisonné enamel (red.yellow.turquoise.green.white.aubergine) jar with a domed cover. The body is decorated with a vigorous five-clawed dragon with open mouth, pursuing a pearl among clouds. The lid is also decorated with a similar dragon in clouds, with a finial in the shape of a lotus pod enclosed in petals. The base is surrounded by a band of lappets.
- Production date
Diameter: 55.90 centimetres
Height: 17.06 inches (without lid)
Height: 62 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Cloisonné enamel decoration consists of coloured glass paste applied to metal vessels and contained within enclosures made of copper. Various metallic oxides were mixed with the glass paste in order to colour it. Inlay of metalwork with glass and glass paste existed in China from the Shang dynasty onwards and was used on bronzes, ceramics and silver. However, the earliest dated Chinese cloisonné occurs in the Xuande period (1426-1435) of the Ming dynasty, by which time very high-quality imperial pieces were being produced, such as this large jar. The decoration is very similar to that on blue-and-white porcelain of the same period.
The bright colours of cloisonné enamels were first thought vulgar and garish by Chinese connoisseurs, but by the time this jar was made it was considered appropiate for palace use.
The Chinese adopted the use of cloisonne from Byzantine artisans and by the 15th century they had perfected the technique.
The inscription on the neck of this large jar shows that it was made under the auspices of the 'Yuyongjian', a division of the Imperial Household. The reign mark in 'champleve' enamel suggests it was used in the imperial palace.
The design parallels the decoration on blue and white porcelain of the period.
- On display (G33/dc32)
- Exhibition history
2014 Sep-2015 Jan, BM WCEC, 'Ming: 50 years that changed China'
- Acquisition date
- Registration number