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Lacquerware

Like porcelain and silk, lacquer ware is a significant component of Chinese cultural relics.

Overview of Chinese Lacquerware
Chinese lacquer is strong and light, at the same time maintaining the elegant appearance and harmonious color. Chinese lacquer ware refers to household utensils, handicrafts and artworks coated with lacquer in ancient China. The original wares in China were those commonly coated with black and red lacquers.

History of Chinese Lacquer ware
During the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 BC) of China, the sophisticated techniques used in the lacquer process were first developed and it became a highly artistic craft. The earliest extant lacquer object, a red wooden bowl, was unearthed at a Hemudu culture (ca. 5th millennium BC) site in Zhejiang, China. During the Eastern Zhou period (771–256 BC), lacquer ware began appearing in large numbers, thus this was the earliest era from which notable quantities of lacquer ware have survived.

In the Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220) lacquer ware was widely used as household utensils. The lacquer ware of the Han Dynasty is elaborate in manufacturing, bright in color, elegant in pattern and delicate in decoration. In Han Dynasty, lacquer ware in China came into its golden age. At that time, the court, nobilities and local merchants regarded lacquer wares as symbols of fortune and status.

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. This new style, art of inlaid gold, silver, and mother-of-pearl continued from the Tang into the Song Dynasty. Apart from inlaid gold and silver lacquer ware style, there are other varieties of Chinese lacquer ware including the style of plain lacquer ware or also called Yise Qiqi in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), carved lacquer ware in the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), the stone-decorated lacquer ware (Baibao Qian) in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and bodiless lacquer ware in the Qing Dynasty.

Development of Modern Lacquer Art
In the modern time, as time goes by with the improvement of people's life, traditional lacquer works have already receded from the list of people's daily utensils. Modern lacquer paintings have been displayed in each national fine arts exhibition, attributed to richness of traditional lacquer art and techniques.

Based on traditional lacquer techniques, modern lacquer artists have explored different qualities of lacquer and created many new techniques.  Since the 1980s, Chinese lacquer art has been displayed in many countries including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and more, has drawn extensive interest of the international art circle.