Chinese Lacquer

August 29, 2023

Chinese Lacquer, also known as the Great Lacquer, is the ancestor of all paints.

The Chinese Lacquer craft is one of the most traditional crafts in China. As an non-physical cultural heritage of China, it has undergone thousands of years of historical development. Historical records indicate that around 7,000 years ago, Chinese people began collecting sap from lacquer trees to create paintings. Unlike modern chemically synthesized paints, Chinese lacquer today still needs to be collected through traditional methods. It is a milky white, natural coating obtained from the lacquer tree. There is a saying that describes it as “one pound of lacquer, three thousand trees,” highlighting its preciousness.

Despite being an ancient technique, Chinese Lacquer is more resilient and durable than modern paint. In fact, ancient craftsmen applied it to armor to enhance its hardness. Remarkably, these lacquered armors have remained intact and well-preserved over thousands of years.

During Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), lacquer painters mixed lacquer with various natural pigments, creating a variety of colored lacquers and started the era of lacquer painting. As time progressed, Chinese Lacquer evolved from a technique for protecting furniture to a form of art. In Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), artists began incorporating gold thread into lacquer paintings, a luxury affordable only to royal nobility. Lacquer-painted Chinese bronze mirrors decorated with gold thread were gifted by Emperor Xuanzong (685-762 AD) to officials.

The process of creating Chinese Lacquer paintings takes several months or even over a year. It involves multiple layers of painting, with each layer applied only after the previous one has completely dried. When being wet, lacquer can be irritating to human skin and eyes, but once dried, it becomes non-toxic, moisture-resistant, durable, acid-resistant, and corrosion-resistant.

In the present day, the art of Chinese Lacquer craftsmanship has become a rarity, with few artisans venturing into its realm. Each stroke in lacquer art is delicate and intricate, conveying the thoughts, stories, and spirits of the artisans to the objects. Embracing the concept of “what’s of the nation is of the world,” ESD Acoustic integrates this intangible cultural heritage with audio equipment. Through the use of lacquer painting techniques, they have spent years developing the technique of painting on surfaces like aluminum alloy and carbon fiber. This transformation elevates audio products from industrial and craft items to the hall of art.

This year, ESD Acoustic spared no expense in creating the Chinese Lacquer Art Version Super Dragon system. This lacquer painting covers an expansive area of 30 square meters, making it one of the largest known lacquer art pieces. The work features a foundation of gold foil, overlaid with up to 100 layers of top-quality lacquer. The surface of the electronic equipment enclosure is adorned with lacquer art, and the enclosure’s structure is crafted using China’s traditional mortise-and-tenon joints technique from a precious wood material named Gold Phoebe.

ESD Acoustic’s “Aviator,” the special version created with Chinese Lacquer painting artistry, has also earned a spot on the famous magazine FORTUNE‘s list of the top 50 best designs in China for 2022.

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