Chinese lacquer, derived from the sap or resin of trees native to China, has been made for more than 2,000 years. Technically challenging and time-consuming to create, lacquer was considered a luxury material, on par with gold and silver, and was created for the Imperial court and wealthy elite, as well as scholars and eventually the merchant class.

This exhibition highlights the Museum’s Chinese and Ryukyu island (better known as Okinawa) lacquers and includes many important loans, showcasing the wide variety of techniques, styles, and forms of lacquer, as well as its uses. It also shows the transfer of imagery and themes across different media including paintings and porcelains, furniture, presentation boxes for special occasions, incense boxes, sutra covers, and even birdcages.


Presented with support from the Rodger and Dawn Nordblom Fund for Chinese Paintings in Honor of Marjorie C. Nordblom and The June and John C. Robinson Fund for Chinese Paintings in Honor of Marjorie C. Nordblom.