The long cultural and artistic history of China has produced a wide range of original and significant artistic achievements. One that is quickly recognized, cinnabar lacquer, with its characteristic red color, sometimes called the red Chinese lacquer red or vermilion.
With its 5000 years long recorded history, we must go back in time by about 2300 years, where we find the first entry in cinnabar lacquer used.
Cinnabar lacquer developed into an important artistic medium of the sixth century BC to second century AD This early days, lacquer was also produced not only red but black, using coal as the dye, and orpiment, as a result of natural mineral waters Ceramic Yellow Lacquer Islands. These three paint colors were used mainly for surface color and sculptures of ships.
The feature carved cinnabar, which we recognize today, first appeared in the 12th century as a new kind of luxury items. Cinnabar as a decorative art has been and is used in many Asian cultures, however, carved red cinnabar is unique to China.
What is Cinnabar?
Cinnabar lacquer pigment is derived from a tree native to southern China, the Chinese Sumac (Rhus verniciflua), usually referred to as the tree of the Lake.
The painting itself is produced by a process of writing a log as the rubber tree. Small cuts are made in the trunk of the tree and the water collected by the fall in a jar.
This paint is an amazing material that hardens when exposed to air and becomes a natural plastic that resists water and can withstand the heat. (Lakes refers to any surface which is coated with lacquer, which is hard and durable surface.)
The first layer is, in this case, not the last! Lacquers may require up to 200 layers! As each layer dries, apply the next layer until the desired thickness is reached. When the last coat has cured, the second phase of the deeply carved decoration begins
Carving is a craftsman who has a razor sharp cutting begins a slow process of carving lacquer surface of the object decorated.
The range of sculptural decoration is, of course, the traditional Chinese style with a wide range of subjects, including flowers, peony, cut scenes, gardens, Chinese scholars and figures of birds on the branches. Many of these items are prohibited decorations, which have been used for hundreds of years.
Lacquer carving techniques include embossing, cutting and burning real. The final results of all three techniques under the common heading "carved lacquer." This may include relief carving, negative engraving, and free-style carving.
What makes a vermilion?
Cinnabar lacquer is carved, which is mainly red. In fact, the word, cinnabar is the name of a mineral pigments naturally occurring mercuric sulphide, which gives red color. The name of the pigment that gives us the name cinnabar. For a deep red color is iron oxide is added to the paint, producing a rich dark lacquer. Cinnabar is generally found in a massive, granular, crystal-like shape and are bright red to brick red in color.
All lacquerware need underlying form and, traditionally, cinnabar lacquer pigment has a wooden base, but modern goods, boxes, trays, vases, etc. has a copper base. Carved lacquer are several layers of pigmented paint on the work surface, usually about 30 to 40 layers, but it can go up to 200 layers, if necessary.
There are museum pieces of cinnabar lacquer such as beds, chairs and screens, with an estimated 500 layers of cinnabar lacquer. It is also believed that some of these large pieces of furniture up to ten years to finish!
In ancient China, and in today's China, red is a color very favorable. It is considered a warm and energetic, which symbolizes good luck. Red is used in many aspects of life such as cultural ceremonies, weddings, anniversaries and especially in the Chinese New Year. Cinnabar lamp, placed in a prominent position, a color not to be missed!
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