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Chinese chinoiserie

Chinese chinoiserie

1690/1700, Canton for European export, skin leaf, ivory, lacquer and mother-of-pearl sticks; This fan poses a mystery to me. Whereas the sticks are clearly Cantonese - a beautiful work of black and gold lacquer on wood with fitted ivory, applied with mother-of-pearl and abalone pieces - the leaf might be Chinese or European. Supporting the European theory, the leaf - in my opinion - is of very fine but durable and soft swanskin, which, as far as I have researched, was not used by the Chinese craftsmen. The painting, however, especially on the reverse of the fan which I have not pictured here, to me has a distinctly Chinese flavour. This may be one of the imponderable cases of early Chinese export fans. There is a heavenly dragon on the sticks, chasing the flaming pearl. He has 4 claws, the four-clawed dragon being associated typically with imperial nobility and certain high ranking officials. The leaf shows a typical garden/courtyard scene with various Chinese figures and rich ornamentation.

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