This Chinese vintage cloisonne called Xiānglú written 香爐 is an incense case or a nice small round box. In Japan, they are called kogo. A kogo is usually made for the tea ceremony, and holding small incense balls in as part of the ceremony. The kogo are also wonderful items of character to decorate with, and to place other small items in around the house. Although this one has a small stain where it may have held incense, there is no smell and it would make a wonderful jewelry box. It has a beautiful black background, and the wires cannot be seen. It is a wireless cloisonne box. I am not sure which this is called, but see more below in the history about cloisonne.
On the black background is a proud crane or Kurēn with its wings flapping as it is landing. The red-crested crane is an important symbol to Japan, a symbol of peace and said to live 1,000 years. It is landing in a tree, and surrounded by blue clouds. A border of arabesque yellow lotus flower surrounds the top rim. The inside is blue as with all Asian metal cloisonne. The bottom foot rim is surrounded with a silver comb pattern, and the entire piece is outlined in silver. It is fine.
In excellent condition, no cracks or chips. Please see the pictures and ask any questions. We are non-house smokers and do not smoke around our wares and our very careful with them to have clean hands and in the packing. We are careful to check incoming items for any unusual smells. Again please let us know if you have any questions. This is a purchase from an friend and honest antique dealer in Japan.
Size: Diameter 2.34 inches or 6 cm, Height .97 inches or 2.5 cm
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From the previous website 'I.D. Cloisonne', the Important Japanese period to Cloisonne,1880-1920:
By 1880 and after, export demands exploded. China's cloisonne production increased significantly for the European and American markets. Quality suffered, due to the mass produced, sloppy workmanship of these decorative and utilitarian items. Motifs became more mundane and repetitive, with much copied traditional subjects, and symbolic nature motifs. The market was flooded with smoking implements, decorative objects, figurines, and small dinnerware accessories.
For Japan, this period of 1880 to 1920 became the golden era of Japanese master cloisonne craftsmen. After participating in International Exhibitions, bringing to France, in 1867, their first cloisonne exhibits. With the years and their increased mastery, entitling them to prizes for their superb cloisonne items, Japan became the most sought-after exporter of cloisonne, replacing China. Pieces were designed and created over many months in the master's studios. Keeping the quality very high and the demand high as well.
The irony is that after Japanese cloisonne was internationally recognized and praised, creating a huge demand for more pieces for the middle classes, this triggered a huge production from Japan with much less refinement and shoddy workmanship. Eventually causing a backlash and the downfall of some of the more reputable makers. Demand for their exclusive and very pricey masterpieces declined with their studios closed by the 1920s. That's why there is, and was such a difference in price between Chinese and Japanese cloisonne produced during that short 40 year period. Even today, these Japanese masterpieces have values in the $20,000 to $50,000 dollar range or more.
While Chinese cloisonne remained traditional, staying with their tried and true motifs and renditions. Japan's cloisonne craftsmen created at least 9 new types of cloisonne between 1870 and 1910, applied to free-standing objects:
1. the black opaque and glossy wireless cloisonne background with fine cloison motifs 2. the translucent enamel over relief ground without cloison, often red 3. the stippled foreground with clear graduated enamels and applied cloison motifs 4. the brocades and motifs using goldstone enamels 5. the moriage cloisonne with heavier relief enamel applied motifs on smooth wireless ground 6. the elevated cloisonne with relief cloison motifs applied to a translucent wireless ground 7. the cloisonne applied to ceramic bodies 8. the graduated opaque wireless cloisonne motifs 9. the plique-a-jour cloisonne 10. and various combinations of the above.
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