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Chinese Lacquer Ware

The lacquer ware is one of exquisite Chinese crafts. As early as in the New Stone Age, Chinese ancestors started to produce lacquer wares. The original wares in China were those coated with black and red lacquers. Chinese used all kinds of handicrafts to make the lacquer cover firmly on the surface of articles for use, art, and crafts. From the Shang Dynasty to the Han, colorful painting, gold inlaying and other techniques were introduced into the making of lacquer ware. The lacquer ware was increasingly used. By that time of Warring States Period, lacquer ware had flourished for 500 years or so. Once, bronze vessels had given way to lacquer ware that was widely used in household, vessels, stationary, art justice, musical instrument and weapon. For instance, the lacquer ware of red wood bowl and canister found in ancient cultural ashes in 1978 witnessed that fact.

 

Chinese lacquer is a natural varnish made from the sap of the lacquer tree which has its home in China, a country still leading the world in lacquer resources. Lacquer trees in Mainland China are distributed in some 550 counties in 23 provinces, but most of the output comes from five provinces-Shaanxi, Hubei, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan. A lacquer tree becomes productive 3-5 years after planting, and entails hard work on the part of the tapper. He can only get the latex in June and July each year and must tap it in the predawn hours before the cock's crow and sunrise. For the sun would reduce the moisture in the air, stopping the flow of the latex.

 

Exposed to air, the sap of the lacquer tree hardens and forms a plastic coat, resistant to water, acid or alkaline corrosion. To make lacquer ware, a base coat is applied to a core material, followed by extremely thin layers of the finest lacquer. Once these have dried, a final layer is added to make the lacquer strong and light, whilst maintaining the elegant appearance and harmonious color. It was in the Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties, when the lacquer ware production started to flourish.

 

Fuzhou lacquer wares are resistant to heat, acid, alkali and electricity. The lacquer wares made in Yangzhou are famous for their elegance and delicacy and the unique creative technique. Pingyao, an ancient town in Shanxi Province, produces lacquer ware which features the luster polished by craftsmen's palms. Chinese furniture is a noble example of Chinese lacquer wares.

 

Please view the exquisite lacquer wares produced in different period of Chinese history.

 

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