Here’s the ultimate decorative arts medium — cloisonné — and new evidence that Ming Chinese scholar-artists might have prized it the way they did their craggy scholar’s rocks and understated ink paintings. The Economist has a great review of a show of cloisonné at the Bard Graduate Center; I also reviewed it in the Wall Street Journal.
The rare white cloisonné basin to the left was used for Buddhist rituals — if you could look inside it, you would see that the wires trace the outline of Buddhist symbols. The vase on the right with its fiery lotus flowers reminiscent of Tibetan paintings is a small copy of an ancient form. The story is that ancient warriors would take a break and play a game of toss-the-arrow, using an empty wine jug. I like to picture Ming scholars and rulers tossing ink brushes into the touhu rather than just displaying them on their desks as objets d’art.