Welcome to baoku, the online learning library of the Confucius Institute at Mason. Baoku, in Chinese, means "treasure trove"—we hope that you find the site's useful information to be just that.

Traveling Trunk


Cloisonné is a unique art form that consists of decorating metal objects by attaching other materials to their surface. Wires of gold or silver are connected first to create compartments (cloisons in French). When this technique is used today, the compartments are filled with enamel (a powder that is melted and dried) that takes the shape of the compartment. Gemstones or glass pieces have been fitted inside these compartments by other cultures (17).

The technique of cloisonné was brought to China by travelers from central Asia sometime in the early to mid-14th century (18). In China, cloisonné was used to create much larger vessels such as bowls and vases. It was there that the technique was perfected.

During the reign of the Jingtai Emperor in the Ming Dynasty (1449-1457 AD) (17), imperial artists further developed bronze-casting techniques and improved the color process for cloisonné. They created bright colors that appealed to the Chinese visually. These improvements made way for cloisonné production with vivid colors and unique designs.