Chinese Lacquer Ware
Emanating a serene luster, lacquer ware is another exquisite Chinese craft. The earliest users of lacquer, Chinese people have enjoyed its beauty since the Neolithic Age.
A wood-based red lacquer bowl made 6,000 - 7,000 years ago unveiled the history of lacquer techniques. Early pieces were in simple red and black. During the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC) to the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220), lacquer ware popularity peaked demonstrating exquisite techniques and vivid patterns such as animals and clouds. Lacquer relics excavated in the Mawangdui Han Tombs which have a history of over 2,000 years, amaze visitors with their pearl-like sheen. The Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties were also prosperous periods during which time more than 400 varieties of lacquer ware were used as common implements and as ornaments.
Fuzhou lacquer wares, firm yet lightweight, are resistant to heat, acid, alkali and electricity. Pieces made in Yangzhou are famous for their elegance and delicacy and the unique creative technique - whorl filling (Dianluo in Chinese) which takes shells as material, processes them into sheets as thin as cicada wings, and pastes them carefully onto lacquer bodies. With this process, people even inset treasures like crystal, jade, pearls and coral onto lacquer furniture, tea wares, and writing brushes. Pingyao, an ancient town in Shanxi Province, produces lacquer ware which features the luster polished by craftsmen"s palms. This simple but radiant artwork ranks as the most refined.