Lacquerware was widely used in Chinese people¡¯s daily life in those ancient days. To make lacquerware, people reap natural sap from lacquer trees. As the sap is mainly made up of urushiol, laccase, gumminess and moisture, it has properties of moisture resistance, thermostability, corrosion resistance and so on. It is then made into different colors and applied to the surfaces of various goods, creatingcolored wares for daily use or dazzling handicrafts and art.
Lacquerware boasts a long history. According to relevant records, lacquer wares had already been used in the Xia Dynasty under the reign of Yu (the legendary founder of the Xia Dynasty, best remembered for teaching the people flood control techniques to tameChina's rivers and lakes) over 4,200 years ago, andthey were used more frequently in the Warring States Period.
In the Han Dynasty, lacquerware was employed for daily use, and gained in popularity from then on. During the Tang Dynasty, the making of lacquerware developed significantly. After the Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties, there were more than 20 different styles of lacquerware.
In Da¡¯an Country, the farming of lacquer trees was once well-established. Considering the number of products harvested from such trees, they deserve the description ¡°fruitful¡±. When they are blown away, more lacquer trees grow up. The lacquer trees prefer to grow above the altitude of 800 meters. Da¡¯an Village is located at the altitude of 1,036 meters, near the highest mountain --- Daling Mountain (in the Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture). There used to be a lot of lacquer trees growing there. The old industry of harvesting lacquer is said to have taken place there for about 600 years, or longer.
Nowadays in Da¡¯an, cured tobacco stretches across almost all the places where the lacquer trees used to grow.
The first step of lacquer-reaping is to ¡°cut an opening,¡± which is done by taking the bark off the lacquer tree. The first sap to seep through is not collected because of its low lacquer content. Seven days later, ¡°the first cut¡± can be initiated. The first cut is quite narrow, only about 2 centimeters wide and 6 centimeters long.