The sap of the lacquer tree has been used as a material for preservation and as an aesthetic design medium in China since pre-Christian times. Archeological findings from the fifth and fourth millennia BC prove that knowledge about the protective and at the same time decorative features of the sap existed and indicate that the craft of lacquering was wide-spread and practiced in specialized workshops as far back as the Chinese Neolithic period.
The museum’s collection of Chinese lacquer art displays a representative selection of the multi-faceted range of Chinese techniques for decorating lacquer. Besides examples of lacquer painting, which is the oldest and simplest method, visitors can see exhibits that were decorated using the complex method of carved lacquer. The ornamental or representational décors on these characteristic works from the 14th to the 19th centuries were artistically cut into a structure consisting of many layers of lacquer, one on top of the other – an extremely costly and time-consuming method. Other works of the Chinese collection were created using filling and engraving techniques as well as a technique that involves inlays of mother of pearl in the lacquer.
Particularly the art of mother of pearl inlays in lacquer was further developed on the Korean peninsula and perfected over time. The objects from the museum’s collection that are richly decorated with mother of pearl bear witness to the unmistakable aesthetic and the sophisticated techniques of Korean lacquer art.
Over the centuries, the craft of lacquering has found its expression in differing varieties and variants in China and Korea and enjoys a high degree of appreciation all over the world.
Impressions from the collection