A pair of cloisonné hair combs featuring fish in shades of orange, gold and white
CONDITION: good vintage condition.
SIZE: 2 ins h x 3 ins w (5 x 7.5 cm)
MATERIALS: metal, cloisonné enamel
This is a lovely pair of Chinese cloisonné side combs made with the design of fish. They were made in Taiwan in the 1980s but never used.
These pretty combs are made of brass and the attractive theme of fish is done in blue, green and white enamel.
On the back of each piece you will find a bright blue translucent background of counter enamelling. This is one way to identify a vintage Chinese cloisonné piece as opposed to a modern one.
Another way is to feel the surface of the piece with the tip of your finger. You will be able to feel the separate wire strips (or cloisons) between the enamel cells. In more modern pieces these are not present and the surface is smooth.
Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects 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.
The motifs that were selected to embellish Chinese personal ornaments, costume and the fabrics from which they were made reveal a particular symbolist structure. The largest number was taken from the natural world. In Chinese culture the fish represents unity, fidelity and fertility.
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