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Cinnabar Lacquerware

Lacquerware is an ancient art that has been practiced by the Chinese for thousands of years, dating back to the Neolithic age. Lacquer, a means of decorating wooden objects, was used for bowls, cabinets, tableware, tables, chairs, and more. Despite its common usage, creating lacquer is extremely time-consuming and demands great care.

Lacquerware is created from the toxic sap of the Rhus Vernicflua tree, also referred to as the Chinese lacquer tree. This sap is then applied by brush onto a wooden object in a thin layer and left to dry slowly in a warm humidified cabinet. This process is repeated at least 30 times to form a hard water-resistant coating on the wood. The lacquer is then either carved into a 3-D design, or inlaid with mother of pearl or other materials including different woods, stones, or metals.

The carving of lacquer works, generally known as Cinnabar lacquerware, is specifically unique to China. The use of powdered mercury sulfide gives cinnabar lacquerware the reddish color for which these works were named. In order to create these carved cinnabar lacquer works, makers will apply between 30 to 300 layers of lacquer in order to later carve intricate designs depicting famous allegories or scenes from nature. Some designs carved into the lacquer are filled with other materials like gold.


Quick Facts

  • Creating one simple lacquerware product like a bowl, due to the time-consuming process, could take several weeks or months
  • Like poison ivy, contact to liquid lacquer would cause a rash. As a result, liquid lacquer had to be handled very carefully
  • It wasn’t until after 247 B.C. that lacquerware became inlaid or intricately carved with designs

Recommended Items at Auction

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A CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER JARDINIERE
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER JARDINIERE
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$5001 Bid
A Carved Cinnabar Lacquered 'Great Wall' Square Box
Dec 08, 6:00 PM CST
A Carved Cinnabar Lacquered 'Great Wall' Square Box
by Mei Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
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A CARVED CINNABAR LACQUERPANEL WITH FRAME
Dec 03, 2:00 PM PST
A CARVED CINNABAR LACQUERPANEL WITH FRAME
by Linwoods Auction
Est: $500- $800
$2000 Bids
A Cinnabar Lacquer Snuff Bottle
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
A Cinnabar Lacquer Snuff Bottle
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
A Round Cinnabar Lacquer Container
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
A Round Cinnabar Lacquer Container
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $800- $1,500
$3000 Bids
A Cinnabar Lacquer Snuff Bottle
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
A Cinnabar Lacquer Snuff Bottle
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $300- $600
$1000 Bids
A Cinnabar Lacquer Vase
Dec 03, 12:00 PM PST
A Cinnabar Lacquer Vase
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
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A CARVED SQUARE CINNABAR LACQUER BOX AND COVER
Dec 03, 2:00 PM PST
A CARVED SQUARE CINNABAR LACQUER BOX AND COVER
by Linwoods Auction
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$3000 Bids
A RARE INLAID LACQUER ‘PHOENIX’ TRAY, MING DYNASTY
Dec 10, 11:00 AM CET
A RARE INLAID LACQUER ‘PHOENIX’ TRAY, MING DYNASTY
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €500- €1,000
€5000 Bids
PAIR OF LARGE CINNABAR LACQUER 'GARLIC HEAD' VASES
Nov 30, 1:00 PM CET
PAIR OF LARGE CINNABAR LACQUER 'GARLIC HEAD' VASES
by Marcopolo Asian Art
Est: €5,000- €10,000
€5,0000 Bids
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CINNABAR LACQUER BOWL
Dec 03, 1:00 PM CET
CINNABAR LACQUER BOWL
by Galerie Moenius
Est: CHF180- CHF360
CHF1800 Bids
Large Chinese Cinnabar Carved Vase Scholar Motif
Nov 29, 12:00 PM EST
Large Chinese Cinnabar Carved Vase Scholar Motif
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
Large Chinese Cinnabar Carved Vase Scholar Motif
Nov 29, 12:00 PM EST
Large Chinese Cinnabar Carved Vase Scholar Motif
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
A PAIR OF CHINESE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER VASES, EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Dec 02, 10:30 AM GMT
A PAIR OF CHINESE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER VASES, EARLY 20TH CENTURY
by Ma San Auction
Est: £60- £80
£350 Bids
A Chinese cinnabar lacquer vase
Dec 02, 10:00 AM GMT
A Chinese cinnabar lacquer vase
by Martel Maides
Est: £60- £80
£500 Bids
An Antique Lacquer Cinnabar Vase
Nov 27, 1:00 PM EST
An Antique Lacquer Cinnabar Vase
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $75- $750
$700 Bids
Lot of 3 Cinnabar Chinese Buttons
Nov 27, 1:00 PM EST
Lot of 3 Cinnabar Chinese Buttons
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $100- $1,000
$1000 Bids
A Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Tray
Nov 27, 1:00 PM EST
A Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Tray
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $35- $350
$350 Bids
A Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Tray
Nov 27, 1:00 PM EST
A Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Tray
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $80- $800
$800 Bids
A Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Plate
Nov 27, 1:00 PM EST
A Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Plate
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $80- $800
$800 Bids
(2) CHINESE CINNABAR HANDLED VASES
Dec 11, 9:00 AM CST
(2) CHINESE CINNABAR HANDLED VASES
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $600- $1,000
$4000 Bids
Carved Cinnabar Style Covered Box
Dec 14, 10:00 AM EST
Carved Cinnabar Style Covered Box
by Material Culture
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Carved Cinnabar Lacquer Scholar Ruyi Sceptre
Dec 09, 1:00 PM PST
Carved Cinnabar Lacquer Scholar Ruyi Sceptre
by China Arts Auction
Est: $7,500- $8,500
$9000 Bids
A Carved Cinnabar Lacquered Cup
Dec 08, 6:00 PM CST
A Carved Cinnabar Lacquered Cup
by Mei Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Cinnabar Lacquerware


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Jumbo Auction House

Jumbo Auction House

Berkeley Auction Gallery

Berkeley Auction Gallery

Mei Auctions

Mei Auctions