It is uncertain just how long Asia has been defining and redefining the technique by which lacquer and its byproducts are produced. Popularised during the dynastic periods of India and China, lacquer was later perfected by the early empires of Korea and Japan. Lacquer-ware can arguably be considered one of Asia’s most significant contributions to the world of fine art.
The tradition of harvesting lacquer traces its origins in Phu Tho, in the heart of Northern Vietnam, and dates back over two millennia. It is here that Vietnamese artisans discovered how to use the Rhus Succedanea Tree sap, a sumac of South East Asia, and how to convert the oleo-resins into a slow drying natural lacquer which can be used to protect delicate paintings and other forms of art. Obtaining the lacquer and crafting lacquer ware is a process that requires knowledge, patience, ingenuity and foresight. The final product must be pleasing to the eye and not lack in quality of design, usefulness and durability. A well-crafted lacquer ware product should be able to last as long as the tradition that built it.