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Gold and silver wears


      The technique of bronze-casting, highly developed by the Shang dynasty, inevitably influenced casting in the rarer metals. Seams indicate the use of ceramic piece-moulds rather than the “lost wax” method. The scarcity of gold and silver in China made casting an extravagant and consequently a relatively rare technique compared with the working of sheet metal which would be much thinner. In the Tang dynasty a cheaper alloy of silver and tin was cast and covered with a coating of better quality silver. Bronze Age cast decoration was enhanced by a granular effect, produced by relief beading. Granulation was later developed in other technique.

   1. Sheet metal

      Gold and silver beaten to sheets or foil of varying thicknesses could be used for inlaying, as a covering for another material, or alone with surface or relief decoration. In the Tang dynasty the interior and exterior of a bowl or vessel were often of separate sheets could easily be decorated with openwork or with embossed design chased from the reverse.

  2.Chasing and ring-matting

      This combination of technique for surface decoration was wildly and most successfully used in the Tang dynasty, when gold-and silver-working reached their peak with influence of Persian immigrant silversmiths. The floral scroll or other design was chased on the metal and, if the metal was silver, something gilded. The background was filled in with regular rows of tiny chased circles, 0.3 to 0.8mm in diameter, thus producing a so-called ring-matting effect. Deeper impression of the ring-matting tool gave a bead-like granular surface.



   3.Granular work and filigree

     Apart from granular effect achieved by casting and ring-matting delicate granulation work was practice from early times by stringing minute beads on a gold wire, which was soldered to the piece, or by filling sunken lines or areas with beads. Filigree Jewellery of gold and silver wire, twisted, plaited, encrusted with Tang dynasty, while the general standards of the working of rare metals steadily declined.

   4. Gilding

      In the Han dynasty parcel gilding was used to decorate bronze. This technique involved mixing gold or silver with mercury to form an amalgam or paste, leaving the gold or silver on the surface. Gilding or silvering could also be achieved with a covering of thin foil. But with the large-scale production of small gilt bronze Buddhist figurines in the Wei , Jin and Norther-Souther Dynasty period fire-gilding became the usual practice.

 

Golden and silver wears in the Tang dynasty

 

        Smithing developed to a sudden flowering in the Tang dynasty, heavily influenced in technique and design by Sassanian metalwork. This was due to direct contact with Persian craftsman, refugees to China after the fall of the Sassanian Empire. Specimens of Tang work in gold are largely limited to hair ornaments, jewels and small boxes, especially reliquary caskets enshrined in the foundations of Buddhist pagodas. The most common forms of silverware are bowls, boxes, and stem-cups of beaten , and occasionally cast, silver, with chased and parcel-gilt designs of hunting scenes and floral or vine scrolls with animals and birds against a matt background of small rings. A few silver tomb objects have been found, but some show signs of use, indicating that they were not produced solely for burial.

 

 
 

 

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