International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology


China Night Research Seminar Series: December 2018-19

A Technical Study on Chinese Lacquer Technology: Case Study of Coromandel Lacquer

By Julie Chang (UCL Institute of Archaeology)

December 12, Wednesday, 2018

The production of Asian lacquer is a complicated process utilizing many techniques, component parts, and specific ingredients.  This presentation aims to introduce an aspect of Asian lacquer technology with Coromandel lacquer being its focus.  It will include highlights from the state-of-the-art analytical techniques applied during the author’s PhD project.  Coromandel lacquer is also known as kuancai and shenke in Chinese.  It is a type of polychrome lacquer where designs carved into the smooth lacquer surface were filled with painted colours.  The technique has a relatively short manufacturing history and limited written record.  Most of its surviving examples are found in European collections.  Interpretation of the data enriches our understanding of the manufacturing processes and the historic recipes of the time period. 

Julie Chang is in her final year of PhD research at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. Her research topic is "A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Chinese Lacquer Technology".  She was a member of the Characterizing Asian Lacquer team at the Getty Conservation Institute.  In addition, she was a member of the teaching team for the Recent Advances in Characterizing Asian Lacquer workshop at the Getty Conservation Institute (2012), Yale University (2013) and the Centre for Research and Restoration of Museums of France (2014). Julie also holds a Master of Science in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums and a Master of Art in Principles of Conservation.  Her research interest involves the detection and identification of historical lacquer recipes.  


Chinese Lacquer Technology