Seventeen specialists dedicated to the art of lacquer have published a book intended to revitalise the venerable expression of Asian culture.
Lacquer in Asia: Today and Yesterday offers a comprehensive picture of both lacquer as a creative art and crafts that allows the reader to compare the different methods and materials used in Cambodia, China, India, Korea, Japan, Myanmar and Viet Nam.
The use of lacquer began with the protection of wooden or woven bamboo utensils from humidity and insects along the many trade routes that linked China with its neighbours and rapidly spread to other countries in Asia.
The techniques for its use became more complex and resulting in an enduring art form.
By providing an overview of lacquer in Asia today, the book depicts a variety of lacquer ware. At the same time, it underlines the importance of documenting past and modern procedures, including knowledge about raw materials and techniques.
But there is growing apprehension that the traditional knowledge about lacquer, so firmly rooted in people’s daily lives as part of their cultural expression, is under threat as never before. The book appeals to specialists and art connoisseurs who are worried about the survival of an ancient art doomed to disappear unless effective action is taken to save it.
Viet Nam’s lacquer art is introduced to readers of the book through the studies of two Vietnamese specialists, director of the Centre for Supporting Traditional Culture and Technology, Phan Dang Nhat, and Tran Huy Quang of the Industrial Arts College.
Their studies go back to the 4th century BC and the lacquered items and tools founded at archaeological sites in Viet Nam.
They then describe the different techniques for making traditional lacquer ware, from producing the raw materials to decorative patterns on lacquered objects.
Lacquer in Asia: Today and Yesterday was edited by Monika Kopplin and published as part of the Intangible Heritage series sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation or UNESCO. — VNS
Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency