Chinese Metal Craftwork

Metal craftwork is a special category of Chinese craftwork art, mainly including cloisonné, enamelware, enchased filigree, bornite craftwork, tin craftwork, iron picture, gold and silver adornment, etc.


Cloisonné is a special craftwork of Beijing. It culminated during Jingtai period in the Ming dynasty. It gains the fame "cloisonné" by the main color of blue.

The technics of cloisonné flourishes during Qianlong period in the Qing dynasty. Cloisonné enjoys good fame home and abroad. It once won the first prize in International Fair in Chicago, USA, and the one in Panama World’s Fair in 1915.

The design of cloisonné is made by pinching fine and oblate brass wires, weld them on the copper body, then fill in color ceramic glaze and burn it. The products are dazzlingly brilliant resplendent and magnificent, with strong, soberminded, gorgeous and elegant characteristic. They include vases, bowls, plates, wine sets, smoking sets, lamps and lanterns, sugar bowls, spice boxes, trophy cups, birds and beasts, etc. more than 60 kinds.

Cloisonné Peacok

Cloisonné Peacok


Enamelware is also named "Copper body enamel", the sisters of cloisonné in metal craftwork. The difference is to past a layer of white ceramic glaze on the copper body instead of pinching wires. Then it can be painted with the glaze after burning. With twice or three times of filling, it needs burning, gilding and polishing after modification.

Enamelware emerged later than cloisonné. The earliest enamelware existing is "Color locus bowl " and "Color peony with carpathite cling pot", etc. during Kangxi period in the Qing dynasty. Qianlong period is a thriving times for the production of enamelware. The design focuses on the ornament of nationalistic style. In the process of polishing, they pay attention to apply the techinics of Chinese painting. And the color drawing use bright red and pink as grounding, looking like frost ,glittering and exquisite.

Beijing enamelware has two major groups. One is enamelware with engraved gold ornament, which belongs to the advanced craftwork; the other is enamelware without engraved gold ornament, belonging to popular ware. There are lots of kinds of Beijing enamelware, vases, plates, bowls, dishes, lamps, wine sets, smoking sets, stove, tripod, jue, xun, hanging vases, etc. Beijing enamelware is tribute in the Qing dynasty.

Enamelware Mug

Enamelware Mug

Enchased filigree

Enchased filigree is also named "fine metal craftwork". It is made of gold and silver, etc. inlayed with all sorts of gems, pearls or by weaving. It is classified as two groups: filigree, which is made by gold and silver wire, filed and weaved into craftwork; Enchasing is to beat the gold and silver piece into containers, then engraved into designs and inlayed with gems.

The techinics of Enchased filigree has emerged in Spring and Autumn Period, culminates in the Ming dynasty, further develops in the Qing dynasty. Many of them are famous nationwide and become the tributes.

Enchased filigrees in Beijing and Chengdu are the best. Beijing Enchased filigree advances in weaving and pileup and frequent in the technics of Diancui, which pastes the blue and green feathers of green birds to the gold and silver ware. Beijing Enchased filigree once won the excellent design prize in Southeastern Asia jewelry contest.

Chengdu Enchased filigree is mainly in silver wires, in the form of bodiless frequently. In Chengdu Enchased filigree the technics of bluing, inlaying gold and silver are of unique characteristics. They mainly include vases, fruit plates, smoking sets, tea sets, hanging vases, jewelries, etc. The hanging plate "Red phoenix flying " and "Peacock in its pride"in the exhibition hall of Sichuan in the Great Hall of the People are the great works of craft artists in Sichuan.

Iron picture

Iron picture is also named iron openwork, the specialty of Wuhu in Anhui province and the Chinese craftwork of unique style. The material of Iron picture is mild steel. Iron pieces and iron wires are forged and welded into all sorts of ornament picture. Mixing with the techinics of paper cutting, engraving and enchasing, following the rules of Chinese painting, with the contrast of white and black, void and concrete, it has a special taste. The production of iron picture originates in the Song dynasty, grows independent in the Kangxi period in the Qing dynasty, and then enjoys the fame home and abroad.

Taking iron as the ink, anvil as ink-stone, hammer as writing brush, iron picture is forged in this way. There are three kinds of iron picture. The fist One is in small size but many designs such as pine, plum, orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum, eagle, etc. After boarding and riming, if hang on the pink wall, it will appear more majesty and dazzling. The second one is lamps, which, in general, consists of four to six iron pictures. Pasting inside with paper or light silk and lightening a wax in silver cover, it will be dazzlingly brilliant and catching. The third one is screen, which is drawn in the natural landscape like water and mountain, etc. simple, elegant, and grand.

Longquan sword

Longquan sword is one of China's famous traditional craftwork, named for the Longquan county in Zhejiang province.

It is said that Longquan sword was invented in Spring and Autumn Period, which is more than 2000 years so far. It wins the fame in the Tang dynasty. Poet Libai once wrote several sentences, of which the main idea is "One would like to be ordinary people rather than lose Longquan sword."

The process of production of Longquan sword is from forging, to beating, shoveling, filing, engraving, enchasing, forging coldly, quenching, polishing, etc. twenty eight procedures. There are one-edged swords, double-edged swords, long-edged swords, short-edged swords, etc dozens of kinds. All of them have the four traditional characteristic of toughness and sharpness; contrast of firmness and softness; exquisite design.

Longquan sword is famous home and abroad. The oversea Chinese in Southeastern Asia prefer to hang it on the wall of their living room or the end of their bed in order to avoid evil spirits and decorate their rooms as well.

Bornite craftwork

"Yunan Bornite craftwork" is a unique folk craftwork in Yunan province. It is made of mix metal of rich in copper, forged, beaten and polished, etc, such complex procedures. The maroon surface is twinkling, mottling and magnificent, unique in the changeable and subtle designs. It is honored as the champion of metal craftwork. Now it has the series of animals, characters, flowers, vases, stove bases, mural ornaments and containers, six categories. In October, 1990, the National Tourism Bureau, Light industry Bureau and Commercial Bureau promulgated "Tianma" gold prize and excellent prize to Bornite craftwork. Bornite craftwork is from Bronze culture, but high above the bronze products. As early as the Ming dynasty and the Qing dynasty, "Yunan Bornite" had been the tribute that sent from Yuannan to the central government. In Yunnan exhibition hall in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Bornite craftwork is the main exhibitor with meaningful glamour. It has taken as our national presents sent to foreign heads of state and distinguish guests, in which "Peacock vase", "Big rhinoceros, "archaized cow", "peacock deity and tathagata" are ranked as national permanent collection.

Tin craftwork

The tin craftwork of silver bird brand produced in the famous tin capital, Gejiu, is rich in tin and hard, good in resisting to oxidation, as white as silver, as bright as mirror leading the industry internationally in polishness and friction resistance. There are more than seven categories at present. Some are smart wine sets, dressers, pen-holders, pen-containers; some are grand and simple censers, candle sticks, puff boxes, vases; some have the designs of vivid birds and beasts, etc. Both of the contours and the designs reflect the local customs and nationalistic characteristics. Some have flying Chinese lobster pieces atop garlic greens, which are the sign of happiness; Some have flowing water and high mountains, which reflect simplicity and elegance; some have pines and cranes, which are the signs of longevity and happiness, and a fine spring day, which tranquility and harmony. In addition, there are also tin wares, which engraved with stone forest, dragon gate, grand vision pavilion, etc. places of interests. And these products have been sold to Japan, America, Germany, Southeastern, Hongkong, Marco, etc

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