Chengdu Lacquer Art

Authors: Go Chengdu


With a long history, the Chengdu Lacquer is noted for its splendid luster, exquisite design and durability.
As one of the top four styles of lacquer craftsmanship in China, the craftsmanship of Chengdu Lacquer was inscribed on the first national Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) list on May 20, 2006.

As a city with rich culture and a long history, Chengdu is one of the major places of production of lacquerware in China. It features smooth and bright-colored surface, elegant pattern and exquisite craftsmanship.

When the famous Mawangdui Tombs of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) were excavated in 1972 in the eastern suburbs of Changsha, Hunan Province, a large number of exquisite Chengdu lacquerware were discovered, and people were astonished that their brilliant appearance remained unchanged for over 2,000 years.

Chengdu is rich in raw materials for making lacquer items, such as lacquer and cinnabar.

The history of Chengdu Lacquer dates back to the Shang (16th-11th century BC) and Zhou (about 1,100BC-771BC) dynasties. In the Han Dynasty, the Chengdu Lacquer was very popular in the country, and Chengdu became one of the centers of lacquerware production in the country and was hailed as the “City of Chinese lacquer”.

The craftsmanship of Chengdu Lacquer is known for its delicate and unique craft by which gold and silver pieces are cut into different patterns to be embedded into lacquer roughcasts and polished.

Now, the craftsmanship of Chengdu Lacquer has been innovated and incorporated some modern techniques, especially, those for carving and filling with different colors, colored patterns and embossed surface.

Lacquerware is not only used in daily life, such as plates, jars, boxes, pots, bowls, tea sets and drinking vessels, but also used as furnishings and practical applications, such as vases, scrolls and screens. Patterns of birds, animals and supernatural beings are often seen on lacquerware.

Yin Liping’s Career as a Lacquer Artist
Yin Liping, a lacquer artist born in Chengdu, said that she did not like her job that much when she was assigned to the Chengdu Lacquer Craft Factory in 1975, in her early twenties. But she came to love it after some time and found she gradually got fascinated by the beautiful and amazing artwork.

As an inheritor of the craftsmanship of Chengdu Lacquer, a national intangible cultural heritage, Yin has worked here for 40 years. Now her studio is on the top floor of the factory building.

She always devotes all of her time and energy to her career, and all artworks made by her perfectly reflect her superior craftsmanship and highly creative ideas.

In Yin’s eyes, everything can be fused into the lacquer art. “I’m inspired by everything whenever and wherever I see, including beautiful natural sceneries, interesting people, objects, birds and animals, and colorful and unique garments” .

“Lacquer is not only my favorite, but has been an indispensable part of my life,” Yin said.

To know more about Chengdu Lacquer art, please visit the Chengdu Lacquer Craft Factory located in 72 Shuhua Street in downtown Chengdu.

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