Lacquer - (Lacquer China Japan) Glossary of Antique Terms L

Lacquer - (Lacquer, China, Japan) The art of lacquering which was known in China as early as the middle of the first millennium B.C. originated in the discovery of the protective properties of the sap of the qi shu lacquer-tree (Rhus vernicifera) which can be used to coat almost any material and forms a hard semi-transparent film which is waterproof. The most popular colors are red and black. The lacquer is applied to a number of different base materials including wood, bamboo, cloth, ceramic, and metal. Chinese lacquering falls into three groups: (1) the ornament raised in low relief; (2) painted upon the surface, and (3) cut or incised. The trade in Chinese lacquered goods was extensive in the early eighteenth century and patterns of cabinet work were sent out to China in the reign of Charles II to teach the Chinese what manufactured goods were required for the English market. See Japanning.


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