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Cai family celebrates rich ties to lacquer thread sculpture

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: Jul 4, 2019


A marvelous work is displayed at the exhibition hall that showcases the Cai's family's lacquer thread sculpture in Xiamen, in Fujian province. [Photo/xmnn.cn]

The glories of Chinese lacquer thread sculpture have been around for thousands of years – and are still being practiced by grand masters to this day.

Lacquer thread sculpture is a traditional and ancient art form in Xiamen, in eastern Fujian province, which uses well-tempered lacquer threads to build up exquisite decorative patterns. It was listed as a Chinese national intangible heritage in 2006.

By using a special production technique, masters create fine lacquer lines that are built up to depict resplendent characters and animals -- especially those of traditional folk themes such as dragons and phoenixes, unicorns, cloud, water and interlocking lotuses.

Enthusiasts say that lacquer thread sculpture boasts fine and elegant workmanship, lifelike characters, quaint and majestic style as well as vivid images. 

Lacquer products have been part of Chinese life for millennia. About 7,000 years ago, ancient Chinese people discovered the sap of lacquer trees and started using it to coat eating utensils, ornaments and other articles.

The uses of lacquer expanded and about 1,400 years ago, Fujian people started to use lacquer threads to decorate their Buddha sculptures, as the delicate decorative threads could add more liveliness and details to the giant figures.

Enthusiasts say that was the precursor to today's celebrated Xiamen lacquer thread sculpture.

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