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RARE CAGE A OISEAU EN BRONZE DORE ET EMAUX CLOISONNES
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About the object

RARE CAGE A OISEAU EN BRONZE DORE ET EMAUX CLOISONNES\nCHINE, DYNASTIE QING, EPOQUE QIANLONG (1736-1795)\nLa cage en forme de dôme, reposant sur quatre pieds en forme de ruyi décorés de lotus, le dessous orné d'une fleur au centre, entouré de fins rinceaux feuillagés et lotus, le pourtour inférieur de la cage à décor ajouré de volutes et lotus de tailles diverses, les barreaux en bronze doré, la porte ovale à décor ajouré de perruches liées par un ruban, l'intérieur de la cage également orné de lotus et supportant un perchoir sur lequel est posée une ravissante petite perruche au plumage finement émaillé, son ventre rouge contrastant avec les couleurs variées de ses ailes, un abreuvoir et une mangeoire de formes différentes accrochées aux barreaux\nHauteur: 37,5 cm. (14¾ in.), Largeur: 26,8 cm. (10½ in.)
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notes

The keeping of birds has been a popular hobby in China for many centuries, and indeed today in many parts of China bird cages can be seen hanging on modern balconies, and many cities still have a special park where bird enthusiasts meet and discuss their birds. Birds were kept for two reasons - either for their beautiful songs or for their beautiful appearance. In the case of parrots, like that depicted in cloisonne within the current bird cage, not only did they have spectacular plumage, but they could be taught to 'talk'.

Those birds kept by members of the imperial family had cages and feeders made to the highest standard in the imperial workshops. Small blue and white porcelain water pots and seed troughs with tiny rings to allow them to be attached to the bars of the birds cages were made at the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen as early as the reign of the Ming Emperor Xuande (see Xuande Imperial Porcelain excavated at Jingdezhen, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1998, pp.59-61, nos.54-1, 2, 3 and 55-1), and were inscribed with the same reign mark as those dishes used by the emperor himself. The emperors of the succeeding Qing dynasty continued to provide their birds with the finest vessels and cages, and even though the bird in the current magnificent cloisonné cage is not real, it has a beautifully made cloisonné water pot and seed trough.

A very similar cloisonné bird cage is illustrated by H. Brinker and A. Lutz in Chinesisches Cloisonné Die Sammlung Pierre Uldry, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 1985, no.329. Although the basic shape of the two bird cages is similar, and both have the elaborately pierced door and tiny water pot and seed trough, there are minor differences, such as the fact that the elaborate decorative band above the base of the current cage is pierced, while that of the Uldry cage appears solid. The Uldry cage also has a simple perching rod across the cage in place of the more elaborately shaped and decorated perch in the current cage. There is also no bird in the Uldry cage. The current cage has many charming details such as the two brightly-coloured crested birds among flowers that form part of the pierced and enamelled design of the cage door, and the well-formed ruyi-shaped gilt handle on the door. The cage was also intended to be hung quite high, since the exterior base of the cage is as beautifully decorated as the sides and feet.

The cloisonné parrot in the cage has been depicted in a very lively and attractive manner with bright eyes and brilliant plumage. The individual feathers have been given texture by the use of a narrow v-shaped cloison within each feather. This is very effective, but must have been very labour-intensive. The same technique can also be seen on a pair of blue doves in the Uldry Collection (illustrated by Brinker and Lutz, Op. Cit., no.324), and on the scales of a Qianlong cloisonné mythical beast in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated in The Complete collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - Metal-bodied Enamel Ware, Hong Kong, 2002, p.123, no.119).

Parrots have long been admired in China, and in early times flocks of autochthonous parrots were to be found in the Long Mountains on the border between modern Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, near the old caravan route. Because of their ability to mimic human speech the birds were known as 'Divine birds of the Western Regions'. From the second century AD different types of parrot began to arrive at the Chinese capital, having been sent from newly colonised parts of South East Asia. In the Tang dynasty colourful parakeets from southern China were sent to the court in the north, but even these could not compare with the brilliantly coloured parrots that, from the third century, were sent as gifts to the Chinese emperors by the rulers of Indonesia and Indochina. The most admired parrots of the Tang dynasty were the so-called five-coloured parrots or five-coloured lories. It is recorded that such a parrot was given to the Tang Emperor Taizong by Champa in the 7th century, and another was presented to the Tang Emperor Xuanzong by the embassy from the 'South Indian Nation' in AD 720. Thereafter parrots remained popular pet birds with those wealthy enough to afford them. It is probable that this delightful cloisonné bird is intended to represent one of the prized 'five-coloured parrots'.

title

RARE CAGE A OISEAU EN BRONZE DORE ET EMAUX CLOISONNES

postlot

A RARE GILT-BRONZE AND CLOISONNE ENAMEL BIRD CAGE

CHINA, QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-1795)

department

INDIAN & SOUTHEAST ASIAN ART

dimensions

Hauteur: 37,5 cm. (14¾ in.), Largeur: 26,8 cm. (10½ in.)

provenance

Bluett & Sons Ltd., London, 4 July 1985.


*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


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