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Chinese Silver Enamel Immortals Set

When the words 'Chinese' and 'enamel' are combined, many people automatically think of cloisonné. In Oriental Cloisonné and Other Enamels, 1975, the Chu's support the theory that  cloisonné was introduced into China from Persia in the 13th and 14th centuries during the Mongol invasions. Cloisonné enamel frequently appears on Chinese jewelry of the late 19th and early 10th centuries.

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08-01-29 Chinese Silver Enamel Immortals Set

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But another technique...painted enamel was introduced to China from France in the early 18th century...sometimes referred to as 'Canton enamels'... The use of painted enamel gained rapid acceptance because it utilized the skills of the many trained artisans who had been painting porcelain for centuries.

This set also required a silversmith... the figures are repoussé metal tamped on pressed from the underside... enamel on repoussé is the most fragile of all enamels... enamel is essentially glass...in cloisonné the glass is protected by the wire work... in painted repoussé there is no protection.

So it is quite rare to find a painted enamel set in such great condition.

The Immortals

When I saw this set my first thought was of the Eight Immortals (reference) so I started counting... and realized there were more than eight different figures... in fact there were nine.

In researching this, I found a number of examples where the Eight Immortals were joined by Shou, the God of Longevity, with his peach wood staff. I believe that is his representation in the middle....flanked on each side by four Immortals.

Singapore RE 2.5.2

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