The Chinese for cloisonné is jing tai lan, “Jing Tai” being the name of a Ming Dynasty emperor during whose reign mass production of such articles began and lan, meaning “blue” –– in most cases the background color of jing tai lan. Cloisonné enamel techniques were brought from Persia into China’s Yunnan Province during the Yuan Dynasty. These were improved during the Ming Dynasty by incorporating them with some of the traditional techniques for metal inlaying and porcelain making, which eventually gave birth to a new kind of cloisonn é called jing tai lan.
To produce a jing tai lan or Chinese cloisonn é vase, for example, the workman needs to produce a copper roughcast, welds some decorative patterns of copper wires to the roughcast, inlays the empty space with enamel and, last of all, fires the “decorated” roughcast in a kiln. If all goes well, the finished product will be elegant with a crystal or deep blue background and dazzling with red, green, yellow and white enamel that throws the golden yellow decorative patterns in sharp relief.
Jing tai lan articles could be large – for example, a Tibetan-style pagoda in the Palace Museum collection is 2.3 meters tall. There are also small things like jewel cases and toothpick holders, which are available in souvenir shops across the country. Jing tai lan articles have been popular all the time, and are still in mass production. Generally speaking, those produced during the Ming Dynasty have relatively heavy roughcasts, and are relatively simple in design. Those produced during the early Qing period, however, seem to be a bit too polished due to an over stress on their elegance. In comparison, those of the late Qing period are markedly crude in workmanship and superfluous in style.
Beijing is the cradle of Jing Tai Lan technology and the extant earliest Jing Tai Lan was made in the Yuan Dynasty. The original Jing Tai Lan was mostly the archaized bronze vessel, among which the Jing Tai Lan produced in Xuande Period of the Ming Dynasty was most exquisite. And then during the Jingtai Period, namely from 1450 to 1456 A.D., the craftsmen found a blue-black glaze material. The craftwork made of this material is elegant and decent. That is the Jing Tai Lan still in use nowadays.