A many layered affair

By Yang Feiyue and Yang Jun | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-03-14 08:19
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A collection of lacquered furniture at Gao Guangyou's workshop in Bijie city, Guizhou province. [PHOTO BY PENG YOULIN/CHINA DAILY]

Dafang lacquerware is 1,700 years old, but now one craftsman is taking the tradition in a fresh direction, Yang Feiyue and Yang Jun report.

Rows of lacquerware objects decorated with ancient totems, lifelike flowers, birds and figures dazzle the eye at Gao Guangyou's workshop in Dafang county in Bijie city, in northwestern part of Guizhou province.

Observed from a distance, they shine under the light, reflecting everything around them, but at close quarters, their patterns have a way of hitting one between the eyes, and seem to jump from the surfaces.

"As time passes, the patterns will become even clearer," Gao says.

These labors of love are Dafang lacquerware, which dates back over 1,700 years.

The tradition originated during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) and Dafang lacquerware eventually evolved into tributes sent to the imperial court during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

Thanks to its favorable natural conditions, climate and soil, Dafang abounds in lacquer trees.

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