Chinese Warring States Period Lacquerware Design

The Warring States period is a very early period of Chinese history. It started around 475BC and ends at around 247BC. This period is the 1st booming time of the Chinese lacquerware design and production due to changes of people’s sense of aesthetics and improvements of the lacquerware making skills.

Lacquerwares are are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. These objects include table wares, artworks, etc. Lacquer is collected from the lacquer trees and is originally white color. The lacquerware makers mix the lacquer with different colors and then apply it onto the wooden cups, dishes, etc.

2Wooden cup coated with lacquer

During the Warring States period the lacquerwares have a very certain style: red color on the inside and black color on the outside. On the outside of the lacquerware, red patterns are often applied on the black background. These are often circular patterns and cloud patterns. On higher ends lacquerwares, gold foil is also used. Most of the graphic coating design is symmetrical.

4Wooden duck container

1Lacquerware with gold decoration

3The ionic “Tiger Base Bird Support Drum”

The lacquerwares are finally replaced by potteries and chinaware due to high production cost and high demand of labor.



china, lacquerware, warring states period
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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Brendan Warren
    January 24, 2016 11:36 pm

    This is a very interesting part of Chinese culture that I did not know about. We often only see the later works of art through different mediums that you alluded to. The fact that these later works were ultimately derived from laquerware makes the laquerware so much more interesting as it created an entire identifiable element within a very sophisticated culture. Incredible that these works of art still exist even though they were made so long ago. Goes to show that quality craftsmanship can make something, not only beautiful, but functional and durable. Do some boutique craftsmen still make these?

    • Yes some craftsmen still make these, but most of them are replicas. Many of the original ones were found in the tombs of the ancient powerful and wealthy officials. The lacquer was still clear and colorful when dig out from underground. But once they react with the air, the colors fade out very quickly.


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