Cloisonné is a decorating technique in which thin pieces of wire are soldered onto an object’s metal body. The resulting “compartments” are filled with enamels of different colours, and then fired and smoothed. It is one of the few decorative methods in Chinese art imported from abroad. Objects adorned in the cloisonné technique were especially popular among the emperors and dignitaries of the last Qing dynasty, whose rulers were ethnic Manchus with tastes that often differed from that of the traditional Chinese literati. The large palace vases are adorned with typical flowers and birds genre motifs. The bottom part bears plants, such as peony and lotus, with congratulatory meanings, which serve as the background for the scene of “a hundred birds”. A pheasant – representing the emperor here – dominates among the birds and butterflies in flight that stand for the emperor’s ministers and subjects. The top part has elegantly shaped handles in the form of dragons, the highest of imperial symbols.