The following information is inexpertly derived from Schneider’s “Art of Japanese Cloisonne Enamel”, and from other reading such as “Japanese Art and Artists of today. VI. Cloisonne Enamal Work.” by Prof. Jiro Harada (published 1911 – available online here). Please consult the experts directly for the full and correct meanings.
Shippo (七宝) – the Japanese term for enamels, which generally means glass fused to metal. The term literally means ‘seven treasures’, a reference to its ability to mimic the colours of gold, silver etc.
Cloisonne – a technique which uses thin flattened wires to separate the coloured enamels that are placed between them as a paste and then fired at high temperatures.
Ginbari Cloisonne (銀貼七宝) – cloisonne with foil underlay. Silver foil covers the underlying vase, and it is this that is seen through transparent enamels. Wirework may be added or not as required.
See the picture opposite from object 23 (a vase) of its Houou Bird design. The foil background can be seen most clearly through the background light blue but it is also there behind all of the other colours within the design.
Goldstone – suggests enamel with sparkling material within it. E.g. if copper is added a distinctive brown colour is achieved. There are several methods used that are casually referred to as Goldstone or Aventurine. Schneider should be read for a full explanation. See also chakin-seki.
Chakin-seki 茶金石 (tea gold stone). Here we will use Schneider’s broader definition of the effect created by mixing any reflective material into enamel, but with a more precise meaning if you are an expert, particularly a Japanese one. See Goldstone.
Houou Bird 鳳凰 (ほうおう). Mythical Firebird Goddess, often described as having the head of a rooster, the beak of a parrot, and three legs along with various other curious features. This image from our object 7 certainly fits this description, though it does not look too fearsome when seen in this depiction.
Kyoto-jippo 京都七宝 (shippo becomes jippo when following another word) – used to describe a method where the whole surface of the piece is generally covered with decoration of gilt wire, typically thicker than is used elsewhere. Notable artist Takahara Komajiro.
Kyoto-jippo style. Schneider notes that the Japanese use of the term ‘Kyoto-jippo’ generally excludes where thinner wires are used, even if wire is used extensively. It is worth reading his explanation directly in his book as to why he recommends ‘Kyoto-jippo style’ in other cases.
Doro-jippo 泥七宝 is opaque enamel, perhaps deep green, that is produced with lower temperatures in the kiln. 泥 is the character for ‘mud’.
Roundel. A decorative shape, usually bounded by a circle. It may have significance, for example to represent a family, or it may be purely a design used to enhance the attractiveness of the item it appears on.
RuYi Border. The distinctive border seen on many Chinese vases and other objects in shape of outline three leaves with a prominent dot in the middle. It appears in many forms, but (almost) never on a Japanese vase. It is said to be derived from the shape of the head of the Imperial sceptre.
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