HISTORY OF ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF ART OF ENAMEL (part 2)
The Egyptian manner of performing jewelry was developed in the post-Dynastic period beyond the borders of Egypt. Ornaments from the burial of the wife of Pharaoh Amenemkhet from Meroe (Nubia) show that here as early as the 1st century AD the Egyptian technique of fixing the inserts has been preserved, albeit in a rougher form. In these decorations, instead of inserts, there are real molten enamels of the classic Egyptian palette. When making the found gold jewelry, the master lost sight of the fact that the volumetric shrinkage of molten enamel should be leveled with additional application and firing. The enamel plunged into the cells and resembles a modern cloisonne, rather than notched, enamel, carefully polished in one plane.
It is also impossible not to recall the funeral decorations of Tutankhamun. The mummy’s mask is inlaid with smalt, and the sarcophagus made of plates is skillfully decorated with embossing, sometimes cloisonne enamel.
Despite the fact that it is impossible to say that the Egyptians achieved significant mastery in enamel work, they undoubtedly had an idea of glass melting on metal, which they skillfully embodied in jewelry, treating this technique as scrupulously as was generally accepted for Egyptian art .
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 that 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 18th and 19th centuries enamel paints 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 due to the fact that 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 meant. 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 picture 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.