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Carved lacquer is a traditional form of Chinese art that has existed for at least 1,400 years. If you have a chance to visit the famous ancient culture street in Beijing ĘC called Liulichang ĘC be sure to visit this shop. You will find a number of handmade decorations.


I went there last week. A lot of carved lacquer plates, vases, and jewelry boxes are displayed orderly on the shelves. Most of them feature a black background and a red, elevated pattern. The patterns show birds and flowers, dragons and phoenixes, landscapes, and characters.


The shopkeeper, Mr. Zhu, told me the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties cared for carved lacquer very much. At that time, some royal lacquer ware workshops were set up. Their products were used exclusively by the royal family.


Want to know how a piece of carved lacquer ware is made? Take a carved lacquer plate for example, which has tens or hundreds of layers of paint on a thin plate. When it is half dry, artists engrave various patterns in the thick paint. Once the paint is completely dry, the color will never fade.


I couldní»t help picking up a carved lacquer plate. It features a vivid picture of the Great Wall. I touch the pattern, and it felt very hard. The plate can be mounted on a wooden stand, and be displayed on your shelf.


What I appreciated

Fine carved lacquer ware, excellent craftsmanship


What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese artwork, good decorations


Beijing carved lacquer, or Diao Qi in Chinese, originated in the Tang Dynasty over 1,400 years ago. It used to be made only for the royal family. But today, carved lacquer has become a Chinese folk handicraft available to everyone.


A carved lacquer ware coats a copper or wooden lining with up to hundreds of layers of lacquer. Then intricate patterns are engraved on its dried and hard surface. It usually takes three months to two years to finish. Most carved lacquer pieces features a red-on-black design.


Recently, I revisited a carved lacquer shop on Zhushikou East Street. Its name has changed to Xiang Hong Lacquer Ware. The shop keeper, Mr. Zhu, greeted me warmly.


I then proceeded to look at the carved lacquers around the shop, all made at his factory in Gu An County, Hebei Province. They offer both handmade and machine-made products. The former is much higher priced. All of them are sturdy, elegant, and forever keep their vermilion color.


Looking around, I noticed that each small pendant of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals cost only 5 yuan. Prices for bracelets range from RMB 20 to RMB 150, necklaces from RMB 20 to RMB 200, and vases from RMB 100 to RMB 3000. Carved lacquer plates are ideal for decoration, present, or souvenir.


What I appreciated

Folk handicraft, ideal for present or souvenir


What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese artwork, exquisite workmanship


Together with jade ware, carved ivory, and cloisonne, lacquer rounds out "the great four traditional handicrafts" in China. Originated 1,500 years ago, lacquer was used to coat artwork or furniture, on which artists then carve layers of attractive patterns.


On my visit to Baigongfang Handicraft Museum in Beijing, I found this Beijing Carved Lacquer Ware Shop on the second floor.


Half of their articles are red-colored carved lacquer plates mounted upon a small, black wooden bracket separately. The delicate designs include the Great Wall and Dragon & Phoenix.


You can see other carved lacquer items, like red-colored peony-covered caskets and small elephant or unicorn-shaped sculptures. But what impressed me most was a wooden pair of lions. Each of them squats on a stone pedestal, with mouth widely open. They are so vividly carved that I felt they would just jump down the stone and chase me. The twin lions are priced at RMB 460.


What I appreciated

Elaborately carved lacquer ware


What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese handicraft, fine workmanship


Should you want to find carved lacquer in Beijing, your best bet would probably be an outlet named Yuanyi.


Beijing carved lacquer originated in the Han Dynasty, and the technique reached its prime during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Its making method involves daubing dozens or even over hundred of layers of natural vermilion paint on a piece of article, and engraving patterns upon the hard surface when the paint gets dry. The resulting lacquer is wearproof, looks noble and elegant, and its color never fades.


The shop carries various carved lacquer items made in Guan County, in the Hebei Province. Each small pendant of the 12 symbolic animals associated with the 12-year Chinese year cycle costs RMB 5; prices for bracelets range from RMB 20 to RMB 150; necklaces from RMB 20 to RMB 200; vases from RMB 100 to RMB 3000.


What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese works of art, exquisite workmanship, reasonable prices.

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Beijing Shopping: Carved lacquer is a traditional form of Chinese art that has existed for at least 1,400 years. If you have a chance to visit the famous ancient culture street in Beijing ĘC called Liulichang ĘC be sur...