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Lacquer-ware

Lac, Lacquer, Sesat

Lacquer-ware

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Lacquer-work is a highly skilled decorative art in which the craftsman first shapes the wood to create the object he wants, using a lathe. Different kinds of wood are used to make boxes, bowls, vases and other turned objects, including chess sets. Traditionally the lathe is hand powered by a cord pulled round a spindle. Several layers of lacquer are applied in different colours and allowed to harden. The design is then incised with sharp tools, exposing the bright colours of the underlying layers.

Lacquer-work is a highly skilled decorative art in which the craftsman first shapes the wood to create the object he wants, using a lathe. Different kinds of wood are used to make boxes, bowls, vases and other turned objects, including chess sets. Traditionally the lathe is hand powered by a cord pulled round a spindle. Several layers of lacquer are applied in different colours and allowed to harden. The design is then incised with sharp tools, exposing the bright colours of the underlying layers.

DESIGNS & MOTIFS

Designs are usually floral motifs in red, yellow and green, set against a background of black. The patterns are fairly abstract. Lacquer vases and boxes, pots and sticks and chess pieces are very popular and are in short supply even in the souvenir shops.

PRODUCTS

Traditionally, lacquer-work was used for containers, bowls and trays used to present gifts to the sultan – some fine examples can be seen in the National Museum in Male. Vases and small boxes are the most common lacquer work items in tourist shops, and the designs follow traditional colours and styles, though the items themselves are a response to tourist demand.

PRACTITIONERS & LOCATIONS

  • Production of lacquer work seems to be concentrated in Baa, particularly the capital island of Eydafushi.
  • On Bandos Island, one can see lacquer-work (and mat-weaving) demonstrated by craftspeople who offer the products for sale.
  • Thulhaadhoo island has posts of lacquerwork. It is possible to see the work being done, but difficult to buy any samples since the few craftsmen produce only on order and only a few people are practising the craft.

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