Cloisonné, also known as cloisonné enamel, is the decorative art of applying enamel of all colours to the surface of a copper or bronze object which is then fired to become a bright and colourful work of art. This artistic technique was transmitted to China from the West and reached its peak of perfection as a result of the concerted efforts of Chinese artisans. Chinese cloisonné there upon became the standard by which to measure the quality and appraise the beauty of cloisonné worldwide. This ranks as one of China's major contributions to the world's fine arts.
Missionaries passed the technique for cloisonné enamelling onto China from central Asia sometime in the early to mid-14th century. After mastering the skill of manufacturing enamel products, Chinese constantly improved and enhanced this special technique, making it a distinctly Chinese art. During the mid-15th century reign of Ming Emperor Ching Thai, cloisonné production was extremely prosperous--many cloisonné works of the most delicate quality were produced. These works were mostly fused with a kind of special blue enamel as the base colour, hence the term for cloisonné in Chinese: ching-t'ai-lan (``Ching-t'ai Blue'').
The main reason that such stunning achievements were possible in so short a time after cloisonné technique had been transmitted to China was that the Chinese nation of the time possessed excellent conditions for developing cloisonné enamelling art--it already had metallurgical technology, such as bronze casting; glass and glaze production techniques were well-known; and how to accurately control the firing temperature was already understood. Another reason was that the enamel was as soft and smooth as jade, as glittering as jewellery, and as delicate as china--satisfying many sorts of Chinese likings.
Cloisonné, also known as cloisonné enamel