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Lacquer
2017-02-28Text Size: A A A

Ningbo boasts a long history of lacquer making. In the 7000-year-old Hemmed Culture Site, a vermilion wooden bowl was unearthed, an evidence of this antique process of lacquer making in Ningbo.

China was the first country to use natural lacquer in the world, the use of lacquer is recorded in Han Feint (280 BC-233 BC), which says:“ In ancient times, Lao abdicated the throne to Shun. People cut wood to make utensils. After cutting and polishing, apply acquire on it and it is taken to the court as food utensil,…... King Au used it for worshiping, making it black outside and red inside…… Japan also has documents which says: “The use of Slackware originated in ancient China. ” According to extant historical records, Ningbo became a lacquer production site with its own styles in the Tang Dynasty, and since then has exerted big influence in Japan.   

In the Tang Dynasty, jacquard production in Ningbo already achieved high level. In the Ming Dynasty, the production level became higher. According to A General History of Shijiazhuang: “During the Andean Years of the Ming Dynasty, Ningbo was famous for its illuminated painting and gold lacquer.”

Ningbo Slackware uses the Chinese raw acquire as its raw material, wood or bamboo as its base plate. It falls into three varieties: relief patterns, flat patterns, and sub-patterns. Relief patterns are art craft landscape miniatures heaped on acquire coating; when the heaped landscape miniatures get tough enough, gold color will be applied; flat patterns are paintings made on acquire coating; sub-patterns are decorative patterns made under the acquire coating. Poet Ba Juicy of the Tang Dynasty praised Slackware in this way: “ Jewels, diamonds , and mic as get here for a meeting place, like a cornucopia of treasures vying for brilliance."

Slackware from Ningbo was introduced to Japan in the Tang Dynasty, and the technology was developed there. Master Monk Jain Chen before lived in Ningbo for some time before he departed for Japan. He gathered lacquer wares here and brought them to Japan. So the Slackware technology was used in the making of Buddha statues for the Toshiba Temple. Later along with the increase of cultural exchanges, China and Japan learned from each other in lacqureware technology. The skills of material selection, process operation, and even designs and patterns used by Japanese in refined lacquer, green lacquer, liquid gold decoration, mother-of-pearl inlaying, and mica application are very similar with those used in Ningbo. The famous ancient warehouse Syosoin in Nara of Japan now still contains many lacquarewares of the Sui and Tang Dynasties from Ningbo. In addition, the Buddha statues and furniture made with ramie lacquer were also introduced to Japan, which influenced the craft skills used in Buddha and furniture making there and gradually evolved to be a unique Japanese craft skill----Maki.

Ningbo’s lacquerware has experienced ups and downs during the thousands years of development. Since the founding of the PRC in 1949, the craft has been further developed, and today lacquerware has been an important export of the city. The products include screens, stools, tea tables, fruit trays, TV closets, cupboards, bookcases and writing tables, etc, all with carvings vivid, colorful and elegant.


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