Chinese lacquerware has a long history dating back as early as the New Stone Age. It has existed in Chinese daily life for more than 4000 years. The original wares in China were those coated with black and red lacquers. From the Shang Dynasty to the Han, colourful painting, gold inlaying and other techniques were introduced into the making of lacquerware. Its unique, high-class, elegant appearance draws attention from most Chinese art lovers at first sight. The special red colour captures your heart instantly, and the glossy, fascinating details are something special for the eye to behold.
Fuzhou, Fujian province, China is well-known for the "bodiless lacquerware", one of the "Three Treasures" of Chinese arts and crafts (the other two being Beijing cloisonné and Jingdezhen porcelain). Fuzhou lacquerwares are resistant to heat, acid, alkali and electricity.
The lacquerwares made in Yangzhou are famous for their elegance and delicacy and the unique creative production techniques. Yangzhou lacquer articles are distinguished not only by carvings in relief but by exquisite patterns inlaid with gems, gold, ivory and mother of pearl. The products are normally screens, cabinets, tables, chairs, vases, trays, cups, boxes and ashtrays.
Pingyao, an ancient town in Shanxi Province, produces lacquerware which features luster expertly polished by craftsmen.
The making of Beijing lacquerware starts with a brass or wooden body. After preparation and polishing, it is coated with up to hundreds of layers of lacquer, reaching a total thickness of 5 to 18 millimetres. Then, gravers will engrave the hardened lacquer, creating "carved paintings" of landscapes, human figures, flowers and birds. It is then finished by drying and polishing. Traditional Beijing lacquer objects are in the forms of chairs, screens, tea tables, vases, etc. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, an enthusiast for lacquerware, had his coffin decorated with carved lacquer.