Tray with Pommel Scrolls, Wood with carved marbled lacquer


Tray with Pommel Scrolls, Wood with carved marbled lacquer

lacquer work / Song Dynasty / China

Place of production:China

Southern Song dynasty, 12th–13th century


Decorative art objects created using lacquer tree sap are called lacquerware. Lacquerware was made throughout Asia, but the techniques and designs varied according to region. China is known for its carved lacquerware. This type of lacquerware involves coating the works in several layers of lacquer to give thickness, and those layers are then carved to create patterns. This technique became widely used from the Song dynasty onward.

This carved lacquer tray was created during the Southern Song dynasty, sometime between the 12th and 13th centuries. Alternating layers of red and yellow lacquer have been applied, and an abstract arabesque design has been carved onto the tray surface. Black lacquer has been applied as the top layer, and by carving the patterns at an angle, the layers in various colors shown on the cross section give a dazzling look. In Japan, this technique is called saihi. There is a lacquerware technique in China by the same name, but it seems to signify a different technique. On the other hand, this type of abstract arabesque pattern is called guri in Japanese. This term is derived from the Japanese word, guri guri, which is used to describe the swirling state of a whirlpool.

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