CHINESE AND CELTIC ENAMEL
A significant contribution to the technology was made by Iran (Persia), India and China. If we talk about Iran, then it is necessary to note the massive bracelets of silver and gold worn by men and women. They are a simple ring that closes with the symmetrical heads of animals. On some products you can see the remains of inlay with blue cloisonne enamel. It is necessary to dwell on China in more detail, since it was the Chinese masters who achieved certain successes in this technique. In the Shoshoin treasury there is a silver mirror in the form of a blooming lotus made using the cloisonne enamel technique.
Much later, several other enamels will appear. Chinese painted enamels are one of the few types of applied art, which until recently had received almost no attention. They entered the literature under the name “Cantonese” enamels and for a long time were considered a phenomenon foreign to China and fundamentally not different from porcelain for export. Apparently, this also explains the fact that in Chinese sources of the XVIII and XIX centuries enamel enamels are completely ignored.
In Russian, the so-called Cantonese enamels are given brief sections in books on the art of China, in guides to exhibitions; individual objects were published in the albums of O. N. Glukhareva and M. N. Krechetova. In the 1980s, an article on enamels with European subjects from the collection of the State Hermitage was published and a dish with a “gallant” scene and hieroglyphic text from the same collection was published. The study of painted enamels is also very difficult because in both Chinese and European literature there is no single terminology for their designation. Often, speaking of painted enamels, polychrome porcelain and objects with a metal base are also in mind. The special name for metal products in the Chinese language appears, apparently, only in the works of the XX century. There they are called “hua phalan” – literally “painted enamels.” Often before the word “enamel” is the designation of the metal of which the base is made – copper, gold, silver. Beijing enameling school has a rich tradition in the manufacture of bulk products, fully covered with cloisonne enamel. Vessels and plastics were manufactured and are being manufactured as export products, which are in great demand in the world market. The drawing is a traditional motif with chrysanthemums. Cells are filled with opaque enamels of several tones. In this case, the enamel is mixed with an adhesive, which should hold the enamel powder on vertical surfaces. At the first firing, the glue burns without residue. After the first firing, the cells are filled with enamels and fired again. Before the final – third firing, so much enamel is applied that it sometimes flows from the cells and closes the partitions. After enameling, the vessel is ground with water and finalized with a fine-grained polishing agent. In this technique, Chinese craftsmen make vessels and figures up to two meters high.
Already in the V century. BC. among the Celtic tribes that inhabited part of France and Britain, a completely different type of enamel was developed – notched enamel on bronze. Initially, it was an opaque red glass, which was used instead of the then widespread coral inserts.
The question remains whether it was Celts’ own invention or whether this method was caused by influence from the East. While in Gaul, due to the invasion of the Romans, the development of culture was suspended, in Britain the culture, and at the same time, the enameling technique developed further. Opaque enamels of saturated color (red, blue, green, white) were imposed quite tightly on each other friend, separating narrow partitions. Even the soldering of Venetian filigree glass was used. In this way, jewelry, vessels, weapons, horse harness and horse carriage details were decorated.
In this regard, one can quote from a literary source, in which enamel is first mentioned in writing. Living around 200 A.D. in Rome, the writer Philostratos in his work “Imagines” described poetry in fictional form: “Of the horses that were carried by the young men, there is not one that looks like the other: one white, the other a mop, the next black suit and another red suit. All of them have silver bridles, decorated with multi-colored and gold plaques. These paints, they say, poured barbarians who live on the island, on the hot bronze. The paints harden and become hard, like stone, and preserve everything that they painted. ”
The Romans learned enameling techniques in the provinces: Gaul, and later in Britain. Their work is technically fully consistent with the work of the Celts. These were also opaque enamels, which were painted in most cases with iron and copper oxides, and notched enamel was used on bronze products. Common colors were brick red, dark red, orange, blue. The difference existed only in the decoration. Precious metals were not coated with enamel.