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Fuzhou's (福州)traditional bodiless lacquerware (脫胎漆器)has a long history stretching to ancient China. The lacquerware, together with Beijing Cloisonne and Jiangxi Jingdezhen porcelain, are regarded as three treasures among Chinese traditional crafts. We have witnessed the gradual departure of older artisans in recent years.   Fuzhou bodiless lacquerware techniques have been passed down by oral tradition, but few written records exist. As a result, some skills have nearly vanished.


Bodiless lacquerware making is a technique used to produce Buddhist statues brought from China in the late 7th century. The technique is done by a rough core first modelled in clay and then layers of hemp cloth soaked in lacquer applied over the surface. Each layer is being left to dry before the next layer is to be added. The clay core will then be removed, forming a lightweight hollow body made of lacquer and hemp cloth.

Lacquer Bodiless Papaya-shaped Box

  • The oldest lacquerware discovered dates back to the Warring States period (403-221 B.C.). the craft has been transferred to Japan, Korea, and other parts of Southeast Asia. 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, colours, design and process.

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