Characterization of early imperial lacquerware from the Luozhuang Han tomb, China

Author(s): Xiao Ma; Yuli Shi; Herant Khanjian; Hui Fang; Dayong Cui

Year: 2017


This paper focuses on presenting the characterization of materials from fragmented pieces of an imperial lacquer plate in the Luozhuang Han tomb, which dates to the early Western Han dynasty. Various non-invasive and minimally invasive techniques were performed, including optical and electron microscopy, XRF, Raman spectromicroscopy, FT–IR, XRD and THM-Py–GC/MS.

The lacquerware pieces consist of a five-layer structure, which includes (from the top): a red pigmented layer, two lacquer finish layers, a ground layer and a canvas/wood foundation layer. The red layer consists of ground cinnabar mixed with urushi. The lacquer finish layers are made of urushi mixed with perilla or tallow tree oil, without any pigment. The ground layer is a mixture of organic materials including urushi, tree oil and amorphous carbon (possibly burned ashes) and inorganic fillers such as quartz, albite and potassium feldspar. Urushi was also identified in the canvas/wood foundation layer. Though highly degraded, the canvas is probably made of hemp (bast fibers). The identification of high concentration of drying oil indicates an intentional addition of oil into the urushi to retard the rate of hardening and to increase gloss.

Cite this Record

Characterization of early imperial lacquerware from the Luozhuang Han tomb, China. Xiao Ma, Yuli Shi, Herant Khanjian, Hui Fang, Dayong Cui. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431265)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14482

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