Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects, in recent centuries using vitreous enamel, and in older periods also inlays of cut gemstones, glass, and other materials. The decoration is formed by first adding compartments (cloisons in French) to the metal object by soldering or adhering silver or gold wires or thin strips placed on their edges. These remain visible in the finished piece, separating the different compartments of the enamel or inlays, which are often of several colors. Cloisonné enamel objects are worked on with enamel powder made into a paste, which then needs to be fired in a kiln.
As per the Chinese Zodiac, the Dragon is the fifth sign and signifies luck. People born in the year of the Dragon share certain characteristics: energetic, enterprising, self-assured, passionate, innovative, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious.
This wonderful black cloisonne box, circa 1890-1910, depicts a huge five-toed Dragon on lid in shades of yellow, blue, red, green, black and white. The rim and base include ocean waves in several shades of blue. The black background is infused with small cloud-like cloisons, while the interior and bottom is solid blue enamel. The box measures 4 3/4" across, 3 1/2" in height and rests on a 3/8" brass ring base. The condition is very good; some minor enamel damage to one wave on the edge of the lid. (see photo)