Melanorrhoea usitata (Lacquer tree)

The sap used in lacquerware, is called Thit-si, literally meaning wood varnish. It is the sap of Melanorrhoea usitata, a tree native to south east asia.Lacquer tree grows wild up to elevation of three thousands feet and sandy soils in the drier forests of Myanamar. Reaching 15-18 meter in height with girth of 2-3 meter when fully grown its first branches begin several meter above the ground .Coverd with canopy of large leaves. It is a fine upstanding denizen of the rain forest and is particularly striking in full bloom when it assumes a mantle of thick creamy white blossoms which later turn red.

Sap From Tree

All materials used even now are organic for the base is made of wood or bamboo or horse hair. The lacquer sap is obtained from the Melanorrhea usitata tree found only in the deep jungles of the north.

Split the bamboo

Joint base of tray and bowl

Coiling offering bowl

In order to produce a good piece of lacquerware, its surface must be painted on the inside and outside with lacquer first, and then stored in a dry cellar. The lacquer is applied in at least eight and up to sixteen different layers.

Dry Inside Cellar

In the final stage, the lacquerware artist draws the traditional designs with a needle. Then, the etched lines of the patterns are filled with different colours. Adding the red colour is from cinnabar turns the sap into a rich vermillion colour.

Filling the red colour

Paint Lacquerware Juice

Green is obtained from the indigo plant and other earth colours are used to fill in the etched lines of the patterns.  

Etching Design

A skiful traditional artist has to take six months or even one year to produce prime quality lacquerware.

Bagan House Artistic Lacquerware work shop, one of the traditional work shops in Bagan, welcomes you to have a look at how much care we take in producing our lacquerware.



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