Taiwanese Lacquerware

Taiwanese Lacquerware Crafts under Japanese colonization

The old wrapping paper was collected by Lacquer Artist Huang, Li-Shu.

Under the Japanese colonization, the most influential figure for Taiwan's Lacquerware industry or for its establishment was the director of the Taichung Crafts Institute for Teaching and Learning - Mr. Yamanaka. Lacquerware is an indispensable utensil in Japanese life. As there was an abundance of timber resources in Taiwan, therefore, he imported the lacquer tree from Vietnam in 1921. At that time, Mr. Yamanaka, the owner of the very large restaurant "Royal Cuisine", took his son-in-law, Mr. Kotani with him to Taiwan, .....

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The place

Chinese aphorism holds that 'the three major requirements to accomplish anything are good timing, favorable place and the support of people.' Taichung County really had the three requirements for the timber industry and Lacquerware industry. In the Japanese period, there were two major forest cutting areas in Taichung County, Pa-hsien Mountain and Ta-hsueh Mountain. Fengyuan was the collection and distribution center of timber.

Chang, Si-Fu (1994), Pa-Hsien Mountain Timber Industry Historical Talk. Taichung, Dongshih Forest District Office, Forestry Bureau, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan. pp. 65.

Because the main substrate of Lacquerware was timber, Fengyuan also became the centre of Lacquerware industry in Taiwan. In the golden age of Lacquerware in Taiwan, there were more than forty factories in the Fengyuan area and the employees numbered about three thousand. The old pictures showed the prosperity at that time. However, all the facilities were not preserved. .....

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Raw Lacquer resin

taken by Chung-wen Yang in a lacquer tree farm, Hanoi, Vietnam.
taken by Chung-wen Yang in a lacquer tree farm, Hanoi, Vietnam.
The old photo was collected by lacquer artist Huang, Li-Shu.

The sap from the lacquer tree is called raw lacquer. In Taiwan, the harvest season begins in April and ends in November. To get the raw lacquer is a very tough job indeed. The raw lacquer collectors must reach the mountain at 3 to 4 o'clock in the early morning and finish the job at about 10 to 11 o'clock. The collectors begin by scooping out the bark with gouges and inserting a shell or shell-shaped container.  .....

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