Chinese "Cinnabar" and Cloisonne
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Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
07/12/2017, 10:43:48

In a recent post was mentioned the high price that eBay buyers seem to be paying for 1970s-80s Chinese cinnabar beads.
The beads that feature a combination of cloisonne and cinnabar lacquer seem to achieve especially high prices.
Invariably, it seems irresistible to sellers to described the beads as "cloisonne inlaid in lacquer."

The actual construction method is quite different - the cloisonne metal base if of course made first, as it requires high heat to melt the cloisonne enamel. Space is left for filling with lacquer later.

I purchased the pendant in the picture (I cleaned off the verdigris and black spots, it is now quite pretty), as it is an uncommon piece showing exactly how the cloisonne and lacquer are combined.

What it also shows is that the "cinnabar" seems to be a very tough type of sealing wax, not the traditional layers of tree sap lacquer. Perhaps there is some tree sap lacquer in the mix. Perhaps not. Whatever it is, it seems to be mostly wax. What kind of wax - beeswax? sealing wax? I don't have the chemical analysis skills to determine. It was poured/pressed into the space on the back of the pendant, and then carved.

What the red colorant might be is also problematic - the traditional toxic vermilion, made from mercury sulfate? Or one of the cheaper modern pigments?


CloisonneCinnabarPendantA.jpg (102.6 KB)  CloisonneCinnabarPendantB.jpg (104.2 KB)  

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