Mastery of bodiless lacquerware in Gaoming, Foshan
Foshan China 2022-11-24 11:55

Lacquerware, traced back in the Neolithic Age, is well known as one of the greatest contribution to the Chinese nation and human civilization as a whole. The art form reached its peak in the Qin and Han dynasties, and, unfortunately hit the rock bottom in the Wei and Jin dynasties. Poyang County of Jiangxi Province has great reputation for making the best bodiless lacquerware in the whole nation.

Artist painting lacquer onto the mud model. (Photo by Hong Hai)

In Hecheng, Gaoming, the GUAN family has preserved the techniques of bodiless lacquerware for multiple generations. Guan Peihua and her brother Guan Jianxing have been verified as the inheritors of this art.

Painted armor on a mud model. (Photo by Hong Hai)

Somewhere near Wancheng Road in Hecheng, there lies the iconic Yihai Carving Craft Factory. It was built by the locals from Xitou Village, who masters the traditional bodiless lacquerware technique. To this date, the location has become a key production base for Gaoming Xitou lacquerware.

Both born in 1990s, the Guan siblings started to learn the craft at a very young age. As they mentioned, bodiless lacquerware in Gaoming, compared to any others in China, has its own personality. Derived from clamping technology in ancient China, bodiless lacquerware in Gaoming has a whole production process. First, the craftsman needs to select quality wood to make wooden models shaped as Buddha, which should be later covered with yellow mud. Then, the sculptor will hand-carve it into a tire. After the slab is carved, the surface of it will be covered with a thick layer of plaster. When the plaster dries, the craftsman washes the yellow clay from the plaster with water.

The master is attaching gold leaf to the plaque. (Photo by Hong Hai)

According to Guan, the art pieces locally made in Gaoming show sophisticated details - sharp looks, defined clothing wrinkles, natural shape, lifelike action and so on. Technically, the products in Gaoming has great tolerance for heat, water, and high resistance to deformation, corrosion. They are of no cracking and moth-proof. The factory, for years, has overcome many shackles production-wise, and now managed to top the skills each time before they come out with one of the finest art.

A lifelike dragon on a mud model. (Photo by Hong Hai)

Author | Jersey

Revisor | Linn, Eleanor

Source | Gaoming Converged Media Center