Chengdu Lacquer Technique

Chengdu Lacquer Technique

Chengdu lacquer has a refined and pretty surface, profound and plain pigmentation, and rich and colorful ornamental techniques. It is regarded as an ornate flower of Sichuan crafts through the ages.

The history of Chengdu lacquer dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period (475B.C.-221 B.C.) and the Warring States Period (221B.C.-207 B.C.). Up to the Han Dynasty, Sichuan lacquer had been very popular in central China. The categories of Chengdu lacquer vary from boxes to dressing cases, to plates, to cups with handles, to flat pots, to desks, to coiling blocks. Figures of birds, animals and supernatural beings were subtly painted on the lacquers.

Chengdu lacquer ware is renowned for its ability to resist corrosion and aging, and for its unique gloss. When the Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs were uncovered in 1972, a large number of exquisite Chengdu lacquer ware pieces were discovered. Visitors are astonished that their brilliant appearance has remained unchanged for over 2,000 years. However, its durability is no accident. Originally using wood as its roughcast base with the later additions of bamboo and paper, the complicated technique of lacquerware-making has remained nearly unchanged to this day. No lacquerware piece is finished until all 72 steps are complete, not to mention the fact that the roughcast must be stored for 30 to 40 years before lacquering. The most outstanding features of Chengdu lacquer are the carving and color filling techniques.

Modern lacquer techniques have kept with tradition, while at the same time, making great innovations. The innovations are especially unique in terms of carving and filling with colors, colored drawings, the embossed lacquers. These lacquers are not only used in daily life, things such as plates, jars, boxes, pots, bowls, tea sets, drinking vessels and sets, but also used as furnishings, such as vases, folding screens, desk screens and wall screens.

But due to the increasingly high costs, long processing periods and management problems, the production of the Chengdu Lacquer Factory is struggling to survive, and Chengdu lacquer craftsmanship is on the verge of disappearing.