Traditional Arts and Crafts-Lacquer Ware

By lacquer ware is meant any artistically crafted article which has a lacquer finish. Because lacquer is a product of the Orient, lacquer ware developed in Asian countries such as Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Burma. The lacquer ware of Japan, in particular, is renowned the world over.

Lacquer is a light-brown viscous liquid that exudes from under the bark of the lacquer tree. By adding pigment to this liquid and applying a layer of the mixture to the surface of an object and then drying it at an appropriate temperature, a coating is obtained that is highly adhesive and resistant to damp and corrosion. Usually, a number of thin layers are applied, each layer being dried before the next application.

Lacquer has been utilized since early times, and some examples of its use in primitive times have been discovered. The oldest object that displays an artistic use of lacquer, however, is the Tamamushinozushi (black lacquered miniature shrine made of Japanese cypress, and the lacquer is overlaid with the wings of the tamamushi beetle) preserved in Horyuji Temple.

Starting with the introduction of Chinese techniques from the seventh century, lacquer was used on artistically crafted items such as furniture, Buddhist images, buildings etc. as well as on boxes and eating utensils.

There are various ways of producing designs on lacquer ware, such as using colored lacquers; carving the design in lacquer that has hardened, then applying colored lacquers to the carved wood surface; makie, where gold or silver dust is mixed with the lacquer; raden, in which shell or pieces of precious metals are set into or on the lacquer; togidashi, where a number of layers of colored lacquers are applied, thoroughly dried, and then scraped to bring out the desired pattern of colors. At present, Wajima lacquer ware (from the district of the same name) is the most famous.

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漆 とは、ウルシの木の樹皮の下から浸み出てくるアメ色の粘液である。この液に顔料を加えたものを塗って、程よい温度で乾燥させると接着性、防腐・防湿性の強 い皮膜が得られる。通常、薄く塗っては乾かすことを何回も繰り返す。漆の利用は古くから行われ、原始時代のものも発見されているが、芸術品としては法隆寺 に残されている玉虫厨子(桧造りの上に黒漆塗りである。玉虫羽根は漆塗りの上に貼ってある。)が最も古い。

7 世紀以後、中国の技術も導入されて箱、食器、その他の家具、仏像、建築などの美術工ち芸品に用いられている。漆器に文様を描く方法にはいろいろある。色漆 による方法、漆を塗り固めた面に彫ったり、木彫りの上に色漆を塗る方法、漆に金銀粉を加えたものを用いる「蒔絵」、貝殻や貴金属板などを漆面にはめこんだ り、張りつけたりする「螺鈿」、何色かの色漆を重ね出す「研出」などがある。現在は輪島塗が最も有名である。