Lacquerware has been produced in Japan for over 5,000 years. The sap from the lacquer tree seals the pores of materials like wood and hardens to a clear finish. Multiple coats build up a coating that appears to have depth, and when other materials, such as gold or silver powder, are added they seem to be suspended. In the hands of a superior craftsperson, the effect can be truly beautiful, as these examples show. They have over 50 coats, painstakingly applied and polished to a brilliant gloss. When finished, they can be used as utensils, retaining their beauty and shine for many years.

These images are from the Wajima City site and illustrate the exquisite beauty that can be achieved at the hands of a true master.

 

The Japan Visitor site has a nice explanation and history of lacquerware.