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 Museum Explorer

Tools and technology in Asia

Lacquered box

Length: 39.000 cm

Asia OA 1979.12-19.1

Lacquered box

From: Korea
Date: 17th century AD

The juice inside a tree is called the sap. Lacquer is the sap of  the sumac tree, which only grows in Asia. The sap is put through a filter and heated. Red or black colour is added, then it is painted onto objects in several coats (sometimes up to 30) to give them a hard, glossy finish which is very strong. Lacquer is very difficult to work with, as it has to dry in a special room with extremely high heat and moisture. It also causes bad skin irritation.

The flowers on this beautiful box are made from a valuable kind of shell called mother-of-pearl. The box would have been owned by somebody wealthy.