Cloisonne are metal objects made with intricate designs and artwork that have been a unique work of art and creativity since ancient times. It is a unique way of designing metal objects with gems, glass materials, enamel paints and other decorative objects that make this art an advantage over other craft materials. The decoration of metallic objects by initially adding compartments to metallic objects with gold and silver threads. Once the welding is done, they are finished with enamel paints and then fired in an oven. This work of art has been around since ancient times and has been as old as the 13th century BC. C.
The existence of this work of art has occurred mainly in Europe, Asia and North America. However, this delicate work of art has its existence mainly in China and Japan. Although Chinese and Japanese cloisonne are almost similar, there are some differences that will help you buy the right piece of art.
In this article I will provide you with the common difference between Chinese and Japanese cloisonne.
1. The simplest and easiest way to differentiate between Chinese and Japanese cloisonne is to look at the edge and edge of the two metal objects. Chinese cloisonne are finished products of smooth and shiny turquoise interior. In contrast, Japanese cloisonne has an orange peel texture on the enamel. Chinese pieces have their edges decorated with Ruyi. Ruyi are colored decorative items that are 1 inch wide. They look like an inverted clover leaf with a dot in the center of each clover. However, Japanese cloisonne does not have such wide edges on its metal parts. Instead, they use fine decorations on the edge that are mostly reddish brown, blue, or green. These fine decorations are decorated dots on the edges of the metal piece.
2. There is a big difference in the birth of cloisonne objects in China and Japan. Chinese cloisonne was well developed and open to trade before Japan. On the contrary, Japan has always been kept safe and secure from the whole world and therefore they developed this art and started trading a few centuries later. Chinese cloisonne began to develop this work of art as early as 1300 and it was gradually adapted by other artists. Japan also initially adopted the Chinese method of decorating metal vases and bowls in the 1830s, and lately, in the 1870s, they developed their own unique style of creating and finishing the artwork. So, in other words, we can say that the roots of cloisonne are found in China and then other countries. However, the Japanese have proven to be an ace at cloisonne objects.
3. Although Japanese cloisonne came into existence late, yet it has overtaken China. And from now on, Japanese cloisonne has a greater variety of cloisonne compared to Chinese cloisonne. The most famous types of Japanese cloisonne are Ginbari, Akasuke, and Totai. What is different in the three styles lies in their finish. Totai was coated with a brown tree bark texture, Ginbari with shiny, translucent enamels, and Akasuke with a light red enamel.
4. The difference also lies in the cloisonné marks or seals of two countries. Chinese cloisonne was often stamped or marked with gloss enamel. The stamp was printed between 1897 and 1921 for the export trade and was often coded “made in china” after 1921 and only “china” from 1897 to 1912. By contrast, Japanese cloisonne was not marked nor sealed. This was mainly due to the Japanese cloisonne being exported from local customers who did not require any export branding.
5. There is a slight difference in the cloisonne enamel coating of the two countries. The underside of the Chinese cloisonne is coated with enamel to strengthen it for high oven temperatures. An enamel coat was made to protect the base from cracking or wrapping from excessive heating. Japanese cloisonne had no such enamel coating and were instead decorated with cloisonne wires with an orange peel texture coating.
6. The designs of the two artworks were also different. Chinese cloisonne were designed and decorated mainly with symmetrical designs that symbolized nature, such as seasonal flowers or Buddhist lotus patterns or mythical animals such as kara-shishi, winged horse or phoenix. Japanese cloisonne used symbols such as the empress or the symbol of the emperor of Japan. They mostly use asymmetrical designs with a more crowded appearance than Chinese cloisonne. A common design that was used by the two countries was a dragon motif. The only difference in the dragon motif lies in the number of fingers represented. A Japanese cloisonne had three fingers depicted, while a Chinese cloisonne had four or five fingers depicted.
7. Regarding the gilding and finishing of the two cloisonné; Chinese cloisonne uses gilding with gold to protect them from heat. Often the surfaces of Chinese cloisonne are glassy and bright in color. In the case of Japanese cloisonne, all metal objects are not gilded, but instead had a combination of copper, silver, and brass wires.
8. Most of the Japanese cloisonné were of unusual shapes and sizes in contrast to the Chinese cloisonne, which had symmetrical shapes that included a censer, a vase, and two candlesticks.
9. Japanese cloisonne bodies were composed primarily of copper or bronze and Chinese cloisonne had bronze bodies. However, Chinese cloisonne copper sheet bodies were introduced in the early 16th century.
10. Compared with Chinese cloisonne, Japanese cloisonne is more polished and reflects light.
I think the more we know the difference between Chinese and Japanese cloisonne, the better we can differentiate between the two and gather more knowledge when purchasing them. Although there is a difference between the two countries, you will find a wide variety of vintage designs and creativity in both pieces of metal.