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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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PAIR OF REAL HAND CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER VASES ON STANDS
Feb 22, 9:00 AM AEST
PAIR OF REAL HAND CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER VASES ON STANDS
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD455 Bids
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REAL CHINESE HAND CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER VASE
Feb 22, 9:00 AM AEST
REAL CHINESE HAND CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER VASE
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD305 Bids
Vintage Group of Chinese Cinnabar Lacquered Carved Items, Three Total
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
Vintage Group of Chinese Cinnabar Lacquered Carved Items, Three Total
by Northgate Gallery Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
A CINNABAR LACQUER CARVED VASE.M029.
Feb 24, 11:00 AM EST
A CINNABAR LACQUER CARVED VASE.M029.
by Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.
Est: $2,500- $3,500
$5500 Bids
A ROUND SHAPED CINNABAR LACQUER CONTAINER
Mar 02, 12:00 PM PST
A ROUND SHAPED CINNABAR LACQUER CONTAINER
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$2000 Bids
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RED CARVED LACQUER PINE TREE AND CRANE PATTERN
Mar 02, 11:00 AM EST
RED CARVED LACQUER PINE TREE AND CRANE PATTERN
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $120- $180
$600 Bids
Two Carved Tixi Cinnabar Lacquer Circular Boxes
Feb 24, 8:30 AM EST
Two Carved Tixi Cinnabar Lacquer Circular Boxes
by Luban Antique
Est: $100- $200
$100 Bids
20th C Chinese lacquer cinnabar vase
Feb 22, 5:00 PM CET
20th C Chinese lacquer cinnabar vase
by Duran Arte y Subastas
Est: €0- €0
€900 Bids
grote antieke Chinese 'Cinnabar lacquer' dekseldoo…
Feb 28, 7:00 PM CET
grote antieke Chinese 'Cinnabar lacquer' dekseldoo…
by Veilinghuis Van Spengen
Est: €3,000- €5,000
€1,5000 Bids
A SQUARE THREE-COLOR LACQUER ‘CHUN’ SPRING BOX AND COVER, QING DYNASTY 清代剔彩春壽方盒
Mar 01, 10:00 AM CET
A SQUARE THREE-COLOR LACQUER ‘CHUN’ SPRING BOX AND COVER, QING DYNASTY 清代剔彩春壽方盒
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €300- €600
€3000 Bids
A CHINESE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER JARDINIERE
Feb 25, 9:30 AM EST
A CHINESE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER JARDINIERE
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $600- $800
$1000 Bids
A SMALL CINNABAR LACQUER BOX AND COVER, YUAN TO MID-MING DYNASTY 元至明代中期小剔犀香盒
Mar 01, 10:00 AM CET
A SMALL CINNABAR LACQUER BOX AND COVER, YUAN TO MID-MING DYNASTY 元至明代中期小剔犀香盒
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €300- €600
€3000 Bids
Two cinnabar lacquer wares, 20th century
Mar 03, 11:00 AM AEDT
Two cinnabar lacquer wares, 20th century
by Gibson's
Est: AUD300- AUD400
AUD1400 Bids
Chinese Red Lacquer Hu Cinnabar Style Vase
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Chinese Red Lacquer Hu Cinnabar Style Vase
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $200- $300
$500 Bids
A collection of Chinese Ceramics, Cinnabar, Cloisonne enamel and hardwood stands Etc (Qty).
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A collection of Chinese Ceramics, Cinnabar, Cloisonne enamel and hardwood stands Etc (Qty).
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £50- £75
£450 Bids
RED CINNABAR RELIEFS PLATE
Mar 14, 9:00 AM EDT
RED CINNABAR RELIEFS PLATE
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Chinese Circular Cinnabar-Lacquer Double Dragon Relief Plaque
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Chinese Circular Cinnabar-Lacquer Double Dragon Relief Plaque
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $50- $500
$250 Bids
Chinese cinnabar vase
Feb 26, 12:00 PM PST
Chinese cinnabar vase
by International Auction Gallery
Est: $80- $150
$200 Bids
Chinese lacquer cinnabar vase 20th C
Feb 22, 5:00 PM CET
Chinese lacquer cinnabar vase 20th C
by Duran Arte y Subastas
Est: €0- €0
€600 Bids
AN OLD FRAMED LACQUERED ORNAMENT
Mar 02, 12:00 PM PST
AN OLD FRAMED LACQUERED ORNAMENT
by Jumbo Auction House
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Cinnabar Lacquerware


Galerie Zacke

Galerie Zacke

Duran Arte y Subastas

Duran Arte y Subastas

Albion Antique Auction Centre

Albion Antique Auction Centre

Jumbo Auction House

Jumbo Auction House