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Our Latest
Cinnabar Lacquer

Cinnabar Lacquer
A lost art becoming more rare each year

Lacquered art pieces have been produced in China for many centuries.  Lacquer is produced from the sap of the lac tree, which is commonly found in central and southern China.  Various pigments are added to the resulting lacquer to change its color, and then the lacquer is applied in many coats to an art object.  After many coats, the lacquer is carved, producing unique designs, patterns, and subjects.  One lacquer, which was prominent throughout China, was cinnabar lacquer. Cinnabar Lacquer was made by mixing a seemingly innocuous mineral called cinnabar with lacquer.  Cinnabar lacquer was used on a wide variety of pieces ranging in size from jewelry pieces to large ceramic or metal vases.

The production of a cinnabar lacquer piece is a fascinating and time consuming process. First, the base work was produced, whether it was a vase or a box. Next, layer after layer of cinnabar lacquer was applied.  Often layers would alternate in color to achieve a multicolor effect in the design, and some pieces would feature more than 300 coats of lacquer.  Each layer would have to dry before a new one was applied, so some pieces could take months or even years to prepare. Once the lacquer layers had reached the correct depth, the carving process could begin.

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China Trivia

The national day of China is celebrated on October 1st.
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