Monday, February 16, 2015

Puzzling Evidence - The Red-Crowned Crane 丹顶鹤 in 20th Century Chinese Cloisonne

In a caption for a picture of a necklace in my previous post about a millefleur pattern I mentioned that one of the cloisonne beads featured an old-fashioned version of a red-crowned crane.  
Crane bead is just to the right of center.

How could I tell it was older?  The depiction of the red crown seems to be the clue. Note how in Chinese cloisonne pieces from the earlier half of the 20th century the red crown sits atop the head like a tiny hat:
On offer from eBay vendor doctorette.

Note the resemblance of the flower centers to those in the necklace beads.

A Deco-era vase

Another beautiful old Chinese box from doctorette.

A box described as excavated from along the Siberia/China border.
Pieces manufactured after the People's Republic of China reorganized the cloisonne workshops in 1956 show a different type of wirework iconography for the red-crowned crane:
Note how the red crest lies below the curve of the head, not above it.

Rubylane shop Historique described this plate and a similar one on offer as, "Purchased in Hong Kong in the late 1960’s at a night market."


  1. Hi, just wondering if you have any information about the 3rd from last image? The pair of small vases? Are they from a night market as well? I have a pair so am interested. Thanks

    1. My notes on these small bottles only indicates that the pictures are from a U.K. eBay auction in September 2014.
      The aventurine enamel, however, appears on other pieces with designs and labels indicating they were JingFa products circa the 1970s, possibly give or take a decade either side.