“Lacquer ware” refers to daily wares, crafts and artworks made by painting lacquer on the surface of all kinds of wares. As the main process is carving and the main material is lacquer, it is named as “carved lacquerware”, also known as “carved red lacquer” in Beijing, and “carved lacquerware” or “pure carving” in Yangzhou. Raw lacquer is natural sap cut from lacquer trees, mainly composed of urushiol, laccase, gumminess and moisture. As a coating material, it has resistance to moisture, high temperature and corrosion and other special functions, and it can also be prepared to different colored paints with brilliant luster. Relatively important techniques mainly include tracing a design in gold, filling in lacquer, mother-of-pearl inlay, gold and sliver grinding, embossing lacquer, painting lacquer in an interlaced way, leveling lacquer, insetting gold, painting red lacquer after embossing decorative pattern with plaster, etc.
At present, there are lacquer craftworks with local characteristics in Shanxi, Fujian, Gansu, Beijing, Jiangsu and other places, such as Tianshui Lacquer Ware in Gansu, Pingyao Polished Lacquer Ware in Shanxi, Beijing Carved Red Lacquer Ware, Yangzhou Lacquer Ware, Shanghai Lacquer Ware, and Fujian Bodiless Lacquer Ware. Among others, Tianshui lacquerware products are dominated by household wares like tables, chairs, cabinets, boxes and tea tables, and mostly featured with all kinds of screen products; Yangzhou lacquer ware currently uses ten types of decorative processes including “carved lacquerware”, “carved lacquerware and jade inlay”, “mother-of-pearl inlay”, “carving lacquer”, “bones and stones inlay”, “top grinding of mother-of-pearl”, “colored drawing”, “carving and filling in”, “polished lacquer paintings” and “wood carving and inlay”, and the products relate to over two thousands of fancy varieties of screens, ground screens, cabinets, tables, chairs, bottles and plates, table screens, tea sets, tableware, smoking sets, stationeries, all sorts of gifts, tourist souvenirs, lacquer decorative murals and complete sets of lacquer ware furniture; polished lacquer ware is a kind of advanced paint ware with technological property, polished by hand, hence the name. Major existing varieties of Pingyao Polished Lacquer Ware are fine screens, hanging screens, TV cabinets, wardrobes of different size, corner cabinets, wine cabinets, display cabinets, jewellery boxes, etc. First coat is usually in jet black, rosy red, apricot yellow, green purple, with paintings of national style including classic novels, characters in the dramas, ancient myths, and characters in legends drawn with gold or painted in many colors, or carved by a knife or inlaid on it. Smooth lines and harmonious colors make wares appear splendid.
Currently, some national level masters including Zhang Yu, Zhao Rubai, and Chi Jiajun from Yangzhou work in Yangzhou Lacquerware Factory, one of the most famous lacquer ware production bases in China at present, to design and create works, as well as teach apprentices. In addition, there are also considerable practitioners engaging in lacquer ware workmanship in Shanxi, Fujian and other places.