Lacquerwork is an ancient technique originated in China, which is to cover the surface of a carved panel with lacquer. True lacquer comes from the sap of a sumac tree native to Southeast Asia. After application, the lacquer hardens and dries and can then be decorated or carved.
Starting from red lacquer wood bowls and painted potteries in the Neolithic age, the development of Chinese lacquer art embraced the first peak in the Warring Period (770 – 256 BC), which continued into the Western Han Dynasty (206BC – 25AD). In the Warring Period (770-256BC), lacquer wares were used in every sphere of society, including daily utensils, music instruments, tomb wares and even weapons. Along your China travel, you may get dazzled by the numerous gadgets in China, while to shop something worthy, I think the Lacquer work would be a great idea for you.
Chinese lacquer art came into its golden age during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). At that time, the court, nobilities and local merchants regarded lacquer wares as symbols of fortune and status. Decoration techniques witnessed new developments in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD); inlaid gold and silver pattern appeared on the lacquer wares at that time.
Lacquer art was further developed in the following Song Dynasty (960- 1279AD). The flourishing economy and stable society gave rise to varieties of lacquer wares, among which the most distinctive style is single-color lacquerwork. Though deprived of decorative patterns and designs, single-color lacquerwork were made with extremely meticulous craftsmanship. If you do prefer to buy some lacquer works along your trip, you could ask for advice from your China tour agents and they would recommend some places for you.
In the Ming Dynasty, a famous craftsman named Huang Cheng, based on experiences of his own and previous craftsmen, wrote the first book on lacquer art. The book was later annotated by another famous lacquer craftsman, which make it China's only completer theoretic works on lacquer art.
Based on traditional lacquer techniques, modern lacquer artists have explored different qualities of lacquer and created many new techniques. Lacquer is not simply a decorative material. It is now used to stick egg shells and mental pieces. Lacquer is also used as a cohesive to make colored paint together with mineral pigment. The flowing quality of lacquer enables artists to use it at their will in their creations. When it is dried, lacquer can be grinded by charred wood or abrasive paper, which makes the modern lacquer art possible.
To discover the culture of ethnic groups in China, Tibet tours does have something for you, while to discover authentic China, Chinese culture exploration is essentially needed. Why not start your Chinese culture discovery from Chinese lacquer art?
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