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Fuzhou lacquer painting
Updated: 2010-11-09

In the Fujian Pavilion of 2010 Shanghai World Expo, a pair of 3.6-meter bodiless lacquerware vases attracted many visitors. With a history of 2000 years in China, the widespread lacquer has great varieties. Among them, the bodiless lacquerware born in China's southeastern coastal city Fuzhou in the Qing dynasty, Beijing Cloisonne, and Jingdezhen porcelain are called the “Three Treasures” of Chinese traditional artworks.

In the 1960s, artists applied the decoration skills for bodiless lacquerware to flat surfaces, creating a new kind of painting – lacquer painting. This handicraft, with strong ethnical and local style, features attributes of both painting and carving.

Interview: Zheng Xiuqian, Chinese Master of Arts and Crafts

"I have been engaged in bodiless lacquerware for more than forty years. I used to learn sculpture as my major, and fell in love with lacquer art after being assigned to the Fuzhou bodiless lacquerware factory. I found it breathtakingly beautiful! To learn this art is quite difficult, but its artistic and unpredictable charm always fascinates me. In the past 40 years, I have never stopped working upon it.”

The production of lacquer painting goes through dozens of procedures. First uses the plank, linen, and natural lacquer from lacquer trees as raw materials to make into a bottom plate. Then, draw the original painting on the bottom plate, and paste powdered scraps and grains of materials such as shell, egg shell, and metal. Finally, the product goes through painting, polishing and other processes. The differences in the size of powdered scraps, density spreading, and thickness of lacquer, makes the painting show rich gradations in color with texture changes, suitable for home, hotel and other decorative scenes.

Interview: Zheng Xiuqian, Chinese Master of Arts and Crafts

This is one of my favorite works, created in 1986. It reflects the scene along the bank of Minjiang River in Fuzhou, such as fishing boats, wooden boats, and buildings.

My daughter is not involved in this industry. My wife and I value our apprentices very much. I impart my skills to them without reservation. Usually I demonstrate each process of creation personally.