Cloisonné Enamel Luduan

Directorate for Imperial Accoutrements

The Palace Museum

The Palace Museum

The luduan is a mythical beast typically rendered as a unicorn but sometimes with two horns. This luduan raises its single-horned head. It has two round eyes. The beast's mouth is open; this stylistic feature also functioned as a vent for the fragrant smoke of the incense burned within the main body. The beast stands upright with spreading claws on its paws. Its round tail hangs at its rear. The luduan appears to have vanquished a snake at its feet; the snake, too, is made of cloisonné enamel. The beast's body is covered in pea-green enamel and embellished with a pattern of red, yellow, blue, and white enamels. The head opens for inserting incense. The inside of the head is engraved with six characters in the regular script that are translated to read "Manufactured in the Wanli reign of the Great Ming".
The manufacture of cloisonné enamel works in the design of the luduan began during the Wanli reign (1573-1620) of the Ming dynasty. The study of this piece and similar works has revealed important evidence for the study of the periodization of metal enamels. Cloisonné enamels in the design of the luduan were usually displayed in front of throne and enhanced the solemn atmosphere of the imperial hall.

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  • Title: Cloisonné Enamel Luduan
  • Creator: Directorate for Imperial Accoutrements
  • Physical Dimensions: overall height: 36.5 cm
  • Provenance: Qing imperial collection
  • Type: enamels
  • Medium: coisonné enamel