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History of Chinese Lacquerware

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History of Chinese Porcelain »

Description

History of
Chinese Lacquerware

From Wikipedia

Lacquerware are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. The lacquer is sometimes inlaid or carved. Lacquerware includes boxes, tableware, buttons and even coffins painted with lacquer in cultures mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Han Dynasty lacquerware unearthed at Mawangdui, 2nd century BCE
Song Dynasty lacquer tray with the gold-engraving technique qiangjin applied to it, 12th or 13th century

During the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 BCE) of China, the sophisticated techniques used in the lacquer process were first developed and it became a highly artistic craft, although various prehistoric lacquerwares have been unearthed in China dating back to the Neolithic period and objects with lacquer coating found in Japan dating to the late Jōmon period. The earliest extant lacquer object, a red wooden bowl, was unearthed at a Hemudu culture (ca. 5000-4500 BCE) site in China. By the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), special administrations were established to organize and divide labour for the expanding lacquer production in China.

Elaborate incised decorations were known to be used in a number of Chinese lacquerware during the Han Dynasty. In the Tang Dynasty (618–907), Chinese lacquerware saw a new style marked by the use of sheets of gold or silver made in various shapes, such as birds, animals, and flowers. These were affixed onto the surface of the lacquer body, after which new layers of lacquer were applied, dried, and then ground away, so the surface could be polished to reveal the golden or silvery patterns beneath. Such techniques were time-consuming and costly, but these lacquerware were considered highly refined Several existing decorative techniques gradually developed further after the 10th century, such as qiangjin (engraving filled in with gold), diaotian or tianqi (inlaid with lacquer of a different colour), and diaoqi (carved lacquer). The art of inlaying lacquer with mother-of-pearl was intensively developed during the Song Dynasty (960–1279). However, during the Song, the artistic craft also made use of inlaid gold in a process of which is to engrave intricate patterns in the lacquer surface and to fill the intaglio with gold powder.

The knowledge of the Chinese methods of the lacquer process spread from China during the Han, Tang and Song dynasties, eventually it was introduced to Korea, Japan, Southeast and South Asia. In Japan, the art of lacquerware-making came along with Buddhism and other cultural artefacts from China via Korean Peninsula during the 8th century, and carved lacquerware came to Japan from Ming Dynasty China during the 14th century. One of the earliest Japanese techniques for decorating the lacquer surface was, besides painting simple designs, the gold and silver foil inlay of the Nara period (710–784). This technique was transmitted from China during the Tang Dynasty (618–907).

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