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Chinese Arts

Chinese Lacquer War

In the 1970’s a red lacquer bowl coated with natural lacquers was discovered in Zhejiang. This bowl proved that China was using natural lacquers about 7,000 years ago. Ancient Chinese people used lacquer to coat common utensils made of linen and woods.

Chinese lacquer ware excavated from Mawangdui, HunanChinese lacquer is a natural varnish made from the sap of the lacquer tree that is common in China. Exposed to air, lacquer forms a plastic coat, resistant to water and 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.

The original wares in China were those coated with black and red lacquers. From the Shang to the Han Dynasty colorful painting, gold inlaying and other techniques were introduced into the Chinese lacquer ware made in Yangzhoumaking of lacquer ware. The oldest lacquer ware dates back to the Warring States Period, a time when lacquer warepopular.During the Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties lacquer ware production flourished.

The best-known lacquer ware in China is solid lacquer without any wooden base produced in Fujian Province. Fuzhou lacquer wares are resistant to heat, acid, alkali and electricity. The lacquer ware made in Yangzhou is famous for its elegance and delicacy and unique creative technique. Pingyao an ancient town in Shanxi Province, produces lacquer ware which features the luster polished by the craftsmen's palms.

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