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Friday, June 1 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
39. (Archaeological Conservation) Stone-panelled red lacquer wooden table excavated from King Lu’s tomb of Ming Dynasty and its lacquer technique study

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The earliest-known Chinese lacquerware is a wooden bowl dating back to 7000 years ago, the era of Neolithic, which lacquer was regarded as waterproof function with decorating fine objects artistically. With the development of sophisticated lacquer process for thousands of years, the manufacture of lacquerware during Ming Dynasty have reached the summit in art and techniques, favoured by the privileged class as which is symbolic of social status, power and wealth. The tenth son of the first emperor (ZHU Yuanzhang) of Ming dynasty, ZHU Tan (1370-1389AD) , King Lu, whose tomb was found in Mt. Jiulong at Zoucheng, Shandong Province. More than 1100 funerary objects, including guard of honour figurines, lacquerwares, costumes, and furniture have been excavated and have provided precious material for further study of the ritual system together with clothing and furniture styles, of early Ming Dynasty. It has also revealed that the lacquerwares of Ming Dynasty have transformed functional usage of earlier period into ornamental purpose like for household exhibition. In order to better understand the lacquer craft of the stone-panelled red lacquer wooden table (see Fig. 1) in the past and restore and preserve this valuable artefact particularly the lacquered-wooden part with appropriate treatment, scientific exploration has been conducted before and during the conservation process. SEM-EDAX, XRD and FT-IR are main methodologies were applied to investigate fallen fragments of the red lacquer wooden table. The cross sectional analysis of the lacquer sample elucidated that, apart from the substrate, is composed of three layers, e.g. ground layer, finish layer, and surface layer (red lacquer film layer). Characterisation of lacquer film has shown that raw Chinese lacquer and cinnabar (HgS) added as the pigment, were mixed for the manufacture technique. Structure of polysaccharides has also been detected via IR and further analysis has suggested the support layer is made of fibres which might be derived from hemp. The fibre netting is believed to strengthen the whole furniture purpose, as well as increase the porosity of the item for gripping more layers of lacquer. Infrared spectrum has also indicated that tung-oil, a popular additives for manufacture lacquerwares during that time, was missing, not added during the lacquer-making process. Elemental analysis and X-ray diffraction suggested that quartz (SiO2) were added, and the well-rounded quartz particles showed they might have been artificially ground and then added into the lacquer as a filling to increase the hardness. Historical documents may not be able to fully explain the initiative in technical evolvement of the lacquerwares and how aesthetic taste of that time influenced and reformed the lacquerware’s manufacture process and artistry; nevertheless cultural objects would provide nuggets of information to unlock the past, how lacquerwares had been juxtaposed with contemporary architecture, furniture and furnishings to reach a visual harmony and ideal. Less practical and prone to decorative, may reflect social and economic development and state of that era.


Jianlan Wang

Lecturer, Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts
Jianlan Wang is currently teaching and doing research in Shanghai, China, after completing her PhD study in chemistry and conservation at Queen's University Belfast, UK. Her research interest is in archaeology /conservation and scientific analysis of objects and textiles.


Yunpeng Wang

deputy director of department of modern analysis, Shandong cultural relics protection and restoration center
Yunpeng Wang graduated in 2007 from School of physics in Shandong University, with a bachelor degree. In 2017 he has got master degree in School of materials science and engineering in Shandong University. Now he is deputy director of department of modern analysis of Shandong cultural... Read More →

Junping Xu

Director of department of object conservation
Junping Xu has graduated from Northwestern University with Bachelor degree of Science in conservation technology in 2003. From July 2003 to December 2015, he engaged in the protection of cultural relics in the Museum of Shandong. From January 2016 to now, he has been engaged in the... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm MDT
Texas Ballroom (Foyer outside Ballrooms - Poster Session) Marriott Marquis Houston