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Lacquer Art

Lacquer art in China has a long history. The oldest lacquer ware discovered dates back to the Warring States period (403-221 B.C.). The value of a piece of lacquerware only begins with the materials used to make it. A high quality piece of lacquerware requires the skills of several different elements: lacquer, layers, core materials, decoration, colors and design.


漆藝起源於中國,歷史悠久。最古老的漆器早在戰國時代(公元前 403至221年)時已經出現。漆器的價值首先取決於製作時的原材物料,而高質素的漆器還要講究以下幾個元素:漆、分層、胎體、裝飾、顏 色、設計和製作流程。

Video Courtesy of Black Elephant Studio

Process making of lacquerware

1/ Lacquer

Natural lacquer should come from the sap of the lacquer tree. The Chinese character for lacquer, pronounced "ch'i" 「漆」 , is pictographic. One of its components, pronounced "mu" 「木」(meaning wood),forms the top part of the word.In the middle two side strokes protrude downwards like taps that have been sunk into a tree. The lower part of the word is formed by a component, pronounced "shui"「水」 (meaning water), which signifies the

flow of sap from the wood.

2/ Layers

Lacquer is applied in numerous thin layers on the surface, each being allowed to dry before the addition of the next.

3/ Core materials

Core materials can be made of wood, leather,bamboo,paper, textiles or even horsehair. Exposed to air, the lacquer forms a plastic coat on the core materials, resistant to water.

4/ Decoration

There are different decoration techniques including carving, engraving,etching, inlaid and gold gilded. All are done by hand with the aid of primitive tools.

5/ Colours

Natural pigments such as cinnabar,orpiment (yellow) and Indigo can turn black lacquer into different colours.

6/ Design

The price depends upon the intricacy of design in relation to the amount of time taken to create and decorate an object.

7/ Process

Lacquer requires a dust-free, warm, moist atmosphere in which to dry and harden. Objects are placed on shelves to dry in between the various preparatory surface and decorative processes. This drying process may take from 3 to 10 days depending upon the weather. It may take up to 4-8 months to complete a particularly fine piece of lacquer.


1/ 漆


2/ 分層


3/ 胎體


4/ 裝飾


5/ 顏色


6/ 設計


7/ 製作流程



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