Talk #51a, 11/18/09

Asian Lacquerware

Gary Carriveau

The sap of the Rhus Venicifera tree has been used for over four thousand years in the manufacture of a variety of utilitarian objects and works of art. The practice may be considered as the first example of the use of a naturally occurring industrial polymer. This discussion will include a brief history of lacquerware, what lacquerware is and is not, general manufacturing methods specific to this material, and some illustrated examples of lacquerware objects from China and Japan. It will conclude with a discussion of the results from technical examination of several objects of the same type held in different museum collections, each revealing a puzzling detail, using a range of non-intrusive analytical methods including optical microscopy, x-ray diffraction, x-ray radiography, x-ray fluorescence, and infra-red reflectography.


The following is a link to the full PowerPoint presentation.