Lacquer is a natural substance
obtained from the lacquer tree which has its home in China, a country
still leading the world in lacquer resources. Much of the country
is suitable for growing the tree, but most of the output comes from
five provinces-Shaanxi, Hubei, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan.
Raw lacquer is the sap of the lacquer tree, which hardens in contact
with air. A tree becomes productive 3-5 years after planting. Lacquer
trees secrete the latex in June and July each year and they must
be tapped it in the predawn hours before the sunrise because the
sun would reduce the moisture in the air, stopping the flow of the
A wood-based red lacquer bowl made 6,000 - 7,000 years ago unveiled
the history of lacquer techniques. Early pieces were in simple red
and black. During the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC) and
the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220AD), lacquer ware demonstrated exquisite
techniques and vivid patterns such as animals and clouds. Lacquer
wares excavated in the Mawangdui Han Tomb which have a history of
over 2,000 years, amaze visitors with their pearl-like sheen. The
Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties were also prosperous periods during
which time more than 400 varieties of lacquer ware were used as
common implements and as ornaments.
Before the invention of the Chinese ink, lacquer had been used for
writing. Twenty-eight bamboo clips found in a Warring States (475-221
B. C.) tomb at Changtaiguan, Xinyang, Henan Province, bear a list
of the burial objects with the characters written in lacquer.
Lacquer ware is moisture-proof, resistant to heat, acid and alkali,
and its color and luster are highly durable, adding beauty to its
practical use. Beijing, Fuzhou and Yangzhou are the cities leading
in the production of Chinese lacquer ware.
The making of Beijing lacquer ware starts with a brass or wooden
body. After preparation and polishing, it is coated with several
dozen up to hundreds of layers of lacquer, reaching a total thickness
of 5 to 18 millimeters. Then, gravers will cut into the hardened
lacquer, creating "carved paintings" of landscapes, human
figures, flowers and birds. It is then finished by drying and polishing.
Traditional Beijing lacquer objects are in the forms of chairs,
screens, tea tables, vases, etc. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty,
an enthusiast for lacquer ware, had his coffin decorated with carved
Yangzhou lacquer articles are distinguished not only by carvings
in relief but by exquisite patterns inlaid with gems, gold, ivory
and mother of pearl. The products are normally screens, cabinets,
tables, chairs, vases, trays, cups, boxes and ashtrays.
Fuzhou is well-known for the "bodiless lacquer ware",
one of the "Three Treasures" of Chinese arts and crafts
(the other two being Beijing cloisonné and Jingdezhen porcelain).
The bodiless lacquer ware starts with a body of clay, plaster or
wood. Grass linen or silk is pasted onto it, layer after layer,
with lacquer as the binder. The original body is removed after the
outer cloth shell has dried in the shade. This is then smoothed
with putty, polished, and coated with layers of lacquer. After being
carved with colorful patterns, it becomes the bodiless lacquer ware
of extremely light weight and exquisite finish.
Pingyao, an ancient town in Shanxi Province, also produces lacquer
ware which features the brilliant luster polished by craftsmen's
palms. This simple but radiant artwork is very refined.
Here are some lacquer ware
on sale. If you have interest please contact me.
lacquer plate is carved with peony flower. The diameter is 14.5cm.
With the stand and box it weighs around 400 grams. Peony is Chinese
national flower which stands for richness and prosperity. It can
display on your desk. It is a nice piece of handicraft for collection.
It costs 25USD including shipping. The lacquer pen container is
11cm high with the diameter of 8.5cm. It weighs around 400gramms
with box. The container is carved with bamboo, birds, and flowers.
It has value in use and it is also a piece of handicraft for collection.
It costs 30USD including shipping.