Visiting The Great Wall Part – Part 3/3

On our way back to Beijing from the Great Wall at Mutianyu, our driver stopped at a factory-showroom where we learned about the manufacturing techniques for Cloisonné brass vases.

I’ve read some tourists/expatriates complain of these sort of stops, but I enjoy window shopping and this was something new—sometimes I even buy something.  In this case, I bought three vases (photos are included here).

First, we went on a tour where we watched men and women creating vases. Once the tour was over, we went into the showroom.

The vases I bought (after negotiating the price) are yellow with a blue trim.  One has a blue dragon on it, the second a phoenix beside a chariot, and the third running horses. Each one is about the size of my hand (see photos)

The cloisonné process is enamel on copper craftwork. It first appeared in Beijing in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and continued during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Cloisonné vases are crafted by using a copper porcelain process. The vase is made from copper with brass wires soldered to the body. Then a porcelain glaze is applied to cells between the brass wires.

After a series of complex procedures, such as burning, burnishing and gilding, the cloisonné vase is done. Chinese name: 景泰蓝(jǐng tài lán)

Return to Visiting The Great Wall – Part 2 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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8 Responses to Visiting The Great Wall Part – Part 3/3

  1. merlin says:

    Nice vases. So was the factory one of those tours where you walk through the process and view people working through the window? I remember visiting numerous places like that in Hainan that processed coffee and other such products. I really enjoyed it, even though it’s not the best tour I’ve been on. The main reason I found it exciting was because in China the companies show people the entire process of how things are made. Not only does it try to prove the products are of good quality, but I like it because it shows how something as simple as a coffee bean for example goes through the process facility to come out bagged and ready for brewing. I have part of my father’s engineering mind in me, so I would say the tours would be like cracking open the lawnmower to see how it works and what might be causing it problems. I’d highly suggest a visit to Wuzhen because it’s the one watertown I’ve ever visited that has a taoist temple (most focus on Buddhism). Not only that, but it has an outdoor tour of how they make chinese rice wine. That was pretty cool to see the massive pots they store it in for the fermenting process.

    • Yes, except there were no windows. It was an open door into each room where different steps of the process took place. Fascinating.

      We have visited several water towns in China but I do not remember the names.

      • merlin says:

        Yea, there are numerous water towns. Zhujiajiao I think was my first and I am honored to have gone with one of my very best friends in Shanghai. Although she was more interested in taking half a dozen pictures and keep walking walking walking when I wanted to stop and look. As she said, “These guys will cheat you of your money. You can find the same exact item in the next stall for half the price.” Sure enough I did, and she helped me get a few wall scrolls. I found a little expat hang out named Bum Cafe and I couldn’t resist laughing as I asked if that was for people like me. Finished the day with a game of chinese poker with her friends. And as we walked back over the bridge to the exit, the sunset over the old town houses was picture perfect.

        The other place I went to was Wuzhen. I remember it quite well as I got to tag along with my boss and her fiance from Bakersfield. I enjoyed it, even though my boss went on another PMS rage always in a rush. Before long she’s literally speed walked through 4 displays and then starts yelling at us. I was happy to have her fiance along for the journey because he’s the only one that can tell her to put a cap on her rage. .

      • Zhouzhuang outside Shanghai is the last water town we visited together in 2008. This link leads to a photo spread of that visit. The only time I visited China and had a camera with me.

      • merlin says:

        Step back for a minute, was that your first visit? Or just the first time you didnt bring a camera? Once you get beyond the glitz and glamour of Shanghai area, a camera is a traveler’s best friend. Even though mine strangely died when I visited Mt Dinghu in Guangdong in 08, and then the new one I had when I went to Nanjing in 2010 I was flipping through the pics and tried to clean up some of the ones that were not worth anything when the camera lagged and when I thought was the “delete this pic” actually was “delete all”. Nanjing is amazing, even though I always had this strange feeling when I was there and it was the only place I’ve had numerous odd occurrences in my life. From freak storms, creepy wet dog sitting on an empty path staring at an empty plot of land supposedly was the Ming prince’s tomb, near miss on being caught when 30 officers were dragging a man out of a restaurant (or when Super 8 hotel held my passport at the counter when I checked in down the road from the 30 police group), a freak storm dumping the equivalent of a swimming pool of water on me when I arrived too late to visit the WW2 memorial.

      • My first visit to China was in 1999. Then, as a familiy, we visited annually and one year, I went twice (once by myself only because my family was already there and I returned to the States for a few months before flying back). My last trip was in 2008 but my wife and daughter have visited China every year and sometimes twice a year. I’ve never been a camera person until I bought the digital camera I took to China in 2008. Then I took more than a thousand photographs.

      • merlin says:

        Not a camera person? You aren’t the only one. If there’s anything I dont like, it’s feeling like a tourist with a camera strapped to my neck. It feels unnatural, so I always carry it in my pocket and if there’s something noteworthy then I’ll snap one.

      • And I have never used the camera on my cell phone.

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