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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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CHINESE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER BRUSHPOT, 'FLORAL'
May 21, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER BRUSHPOT, 'FLORAL'
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $1,200- $3,000
$9000 Bids
A CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER ROUND BOX WITH COVER
May 29, 9:00 AM EDT
A CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER ROUND BOX WITH COVER
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $500- $15,000
$1000 Bids
Chinese Cinnabar Plate with Soapstone Decorations
May 24, 9:00 AM EDT
Chinese Cinnabar Plate with Soapstone Decorations
by Montgomery Auction
Est: $200- $400
$500 Bids
20th C Chinese lacquer cinnabar vase
May 29, 5:00 PM CEST
20th C Chinese lacquer cinnabar vase
by Duran Arte y Subastas
Est: €0- €0
€650 Bids
Chinese cinnabar lacquer brush pot, early 20th Century.
May 23, 4:00 PM CEST
Chinese cinnabar lacquer brush pot, early 20th Century.
by Balclis
Est: €350- €400
€3400 Bids
A CHINESE RED CINNABAR LACQUER CARVED SQUARE DISH, MING DYNASTY
Jun 05, 10:30 AM BST
A CHINESE RED CINNABAR LACQUER CARVED SQUARE DISH, MING DYNASTY
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £2,000- £3,000
£1,5000 Bids
FINE 18TH C. CHINESE CINNABAR BOX.
May 29, 10:00 AM EDT
FINE 18TH C. CHINESE CINNABAR BOX.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$1,5000 Bids
Pair of Chinese Cinnabar Covered Vases
May 28, 6:00 PM EDT
Pair of Chinese Cinnabar Covered Vases
by Orion Antiques
Est: $200- $800
$1000 Bids
Chinese Cinnabar Vase
May 30, 10:00 AM EDT
Chinese Cinnabar Vase
by Stallion Hill Gallery
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
Lacquerware Qin
May 25, 9:00 PM CST
Lacquerware Qin
by Chongzheng Auction
Est: 4,600 元- 1,800,000 元
3,600 元0 Bids
A CINNABAR LACQUER CARVED VASE.M029.
May 28, 11:00 AM EDT
A CINNABAR LACQUER CARVED VASE.M029.
by Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.
Est: $2,500- $3,500
$5500 Bids
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A CHINESE WOOD-CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER DISH
Jun 01, 11:00 AM CEST
A CHINESE WOOD-CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER DISH
by Galerie Moenius
Est: €100- €200
€1000 Bids
CHINESE CINNABAR VASES
May 31, 12:00 PM EDT
CHINESE CINNABAR VASES
by Dennis Auction Service
Est: $100- $200
$250 Bids
CHINESE CINNABAR BOTTLE
May 31, 12:00 PM EDT
CHINESE CINNABAR BOTTLE
by Dennis Auction Service
Est: $50- $100
$250 Bids
Lacquerware Carved Flower Pattern Plate
May 30, 2:00 PM PDT
Lacquerware Carved Flower Pattern Plate
by Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc
Est: $1,300- $2,200
$3000 Bids
Lacquerware Carved Pine Tree and Character Pattern Plate
May 30, 2:00 PM PDT
Lacquerware Carved Pine Tree and Character Pattern Plate
by Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc
Est: $1,300- $2,200
$3000 Bids
Lacquerware Carved Flower and Dragon Pattern Plate
May 30, 2:00 PM PDT
Lacquerware Carved Flower and Dragon Pattern Plate
by Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc
Est: $2,200- $3,100
$3000 Bids
Lacquerware Carved Flower and Poetry Pattern Plate
May 30, 2:00 PM PDT
Lacquerware Carved Flower and Poetry Pattern Plate
by Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc
Est: $1,300- $2,200
$3000 Bids
Qing Dynasty Chinese CInnabar Tray
Jun 05, 10:00 AM EDT
Qing Dynasty Chinese CInnabar Tray
by Caza Sikes
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
A FINE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER RUYI SCEPTER
May 29, 9:00 AM EDT
A FINE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER RUYI SCEPTER
by Lauren Gallery
Est: $500- $15,000
$2000 Bids
A Chinese cinnabar lacquer square tray
May 22, 10:30 AM BST
A Chinese cinnabar lacquer square tray
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £300- £500
£2000 Bids
A CHINESE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER RECTANGULAR SCROLL TRAY, QING DYNASTY
Jun 05, 10:30 AM BST
A CHINESE CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER RECTANGULAR SCROLL TRAY, QING DYNASTY
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £6,000- £8,000
£5,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Cinnabar Lacquerware


Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc

Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc

Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales

Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales

Dennis Auction Service

Dennis Auction Service

Balclis

Balclis