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 about these stops, but I enjoy window shopping and this was something new—sometimes I even buy stuff. In this case, I bought three vases (photos included).
First, we went on a tour where we watched men and women creating these vases. Once the tour was over, we went to 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 but larger around.
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)
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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