Monday, January 11, 2016

Puzzling Evidence - The Fish Scale Pattern Transmutes into a Petal Diaper in Chinese Cloisonne circa 1970s

A previous post discusses the development of a fish scale background pattern in 20th century Chinese cloisonne.  Some time during or after the 1950s, a variation of this scale pattern appears, with the edges crimped to resemble blossom petals.

eBay vendor boatingindustrysurplus has on offer a collection of Chinese cloisonne pieces, which the vendors states were all purchased at the same time, that appear to date from the 1960s-70s.

Some relevant dates to keep in mind:

  • 1949 People’s Republic of China established
  • 1958 Beijing Enamel Factory (JingFa) is organized, products to be sold for foreign exchange under the Beiing Arts & Crafts Import & Export Corporation
  • Between 1949 and 1974, the People's Republic was closed to all but selected foreign visitors [Wikipedia]
  • 1971 21-year United States trade embargo of China ends
  • 1979 United States and mainland People’s Republic of China re-establish diplomatic relations
Here are the pieces from the boatingdustrysurplus collection:


Bottle vase displays classic JingFa composition of a large floral composition on front, small floral spray on back, flying swallow, neat and precise cloud diaper, rolled rim, blue base enamel.

Observe how front & back, left & right side patterns match exactly, with coloring variations.  These monochromatic enamels were discussed in an older post.
A small dish featuring the JingFa cloud background.
Small round boxes with JingFa cloud diaper.
A modern rendition of a Phoenix, similar in style to designs on vases and large ornament beads that seem to date to the 1970s-80s.

Small round boxes with neatly executed lotus scroll and scholar items themes.  

Small dishes with petal diaper.
Other pieces from various former online auctions that display similar "Made in Peoples Republic of China" labels and a petal diaper:
Observe the rows of tiny circles in the green vase and following pictures, identical to those also used in fish scale diaper designs.

Classic JingFa composition, substituting scholar objects and a ruyi scepter for the more typical floral designs.



A modern version of the old squirrel-and-grapes motif, featuring innovative base and neck motifs as well as the petal diaper.  Again, observe the use of a row of tiny circles as a subtle accent motif on the shoulder.
A set of napkin rings on offer from Etsy vendor YardSaleYuppie, exhibiting not only the cloud and petal diapers, but a trefoil and modern version of the classic vine scroll pattern.  Note the precision and neatness of execution.
Alert blog readers will recognize the vine scroll pattern in the napkins rings as also appearing in this set of small dishes that may date from the 1960s:

1 comment:

  1. I want to tell you how totally amazing your series on Chinese cloisonné is and the impact that it has had in exploring and identifying this art for many of us today. Your keen observations and research is primo and your writing style is totally engaging. Thank you for sharing all that you have discovered. :)

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