While in Bagan we stopped at a lacquerware shop, we had not intended to get anything and stopped to as Bagan is famous for lacquerware. The woman showed us around, and showed us how they make lacquerware. It was amazing to realize that it is made from strips of bamboo that are notched to form concentric rings that can then be opened like a collapsable camping cup. After they open them up into the shape they want they put the first layer of lacquer. They follow this by putting another 8 layers of base lacquer, some of the layers will have clay, dirt or other mixtures to give it extra strength. Once they have the first 9 layers they start to etch the lacquer. This provides the pattern and the grooves for the first color to go into. They repeat the process for each color. The amazing part of this is that they do it all free hand. By the time all the colors are applied the piece will have about 14-18 layers of lacquer on it.
After she gave us the tour we took a look at the merchandise and thought we had figured out something to get and then she asked us if we wanted to see the first quality lacquerware, we hadn’t realized that we  were looking at the lower quality lacquerware that only had 7 layers. We thought what the hell, what kind of difference can there really be. That was a mistake as once we saw the fancier stuff Caitlin was mentioning how she wanted a lacquer china cabinet. While it was absolutely amazing, I have no idea what you would put in the thing that could stand up to the artwork on the piece. Unfortunately you weren’t allowed to take pictures so you have to trust me that it was absolutely amazing. To keep the story from getting to long we took roughly 45min. picking out one fancy beggars bowl. It made it back to Seoul in one piece, but not without Caitlin carrying it and elbowing anyone who got near her. The moral of the story if you couldn’t figure it out is, don’t go into the back room to see first quality anything.
The first layer of lacquer
The fitting of the bamboo pieces together.

Making straight lines on a cabinet.
Creating the etching for the first color.

A closer look.
Our beggars bowl.

A closer look.

The beggars bowl with lid.


One thought on “Lacquerware

  1. Oh my gosh, if that's a beggar's bowl, I can only imagine what was in the back room. That is stunning and will serve as a beautiful addition to your growing art collection.
    Good purchase.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s