Monthly Archives: August 2014


Cloisonné (circa Ming Dynasty) is the resulting effect of metalware decorated with an ancient technique which uses enamel, gemstones, coloured glass paste, and various other materials.  In the late ’90’s one of the best place to find Cloisonné bowls, vases and plates in Hong Kong was a little store on the first floor of a building on Elgin Street. Sadly, this store ended up closing down, along with a cluster of great stores around it.  On late-night walks I used to pick up a lot of curios and other bits and pieces from there where dust would be all over the Cloisonné.  A simple wipedown with a damp cloth at home revealed an extremely beautiful object gleaming in vibrant shades in a treasure trove of designs.

A couple of good places to find Cloisonné around Hong Kong today are:

The Sum Ngai Brass Factory in Kam Tin, New Territories, has a huge collection of Cloisonné out, and for well-priced vases and Christmas decorations this is a good place to shop.  Ornamental and oversized bowls are available as well as splendid statement-making urns.  Pop into Friendship Trading Company, 105-107 Hollywood Rd, Central, for even more affordable gifts – the pencil holders and vases are just two examples of lovely Cloisonné staples.

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Little and lovely

Those lovely small snuff bottles all began during the Qing Dynasty (1644- 1911).  Precious powdered tobacco was held in them, along with some herbs and spices, and the snuff was used as a remedy for colds and illnesses.  Some bottles still have a little spoon attached to the stopper.  Each of the tiny bottles are delicately illustrated with a scene or image that has a symbolic meaning.  There are cranes, lotus flowers, dragonflies, and some are believed to boost health, focus, or determination.

Designed to fit into the palm of the user’s hand, the exquisite bottles can be made out of jade, agate, glass, wood, ivory, sterling silver, porcelain, or turquoise or ruby. The price varies – the collector’s pieces can be much sought-after. Half a dozen or so, organised prettily, will add whimsy to any dressing table.

Pick up some snuff bottles at the Jade Market, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon; and a friendly history lesson while viewing the displays at the Friendship Trading Company, 105-107 Hollywood Rd, Central adds an adventuresome touch and for some fun fossicking head to True Arts & Curios, 89-91 Hollywood Rd, Central.

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