It is well known that lacquer art is an important cultural heritage and an important part of people’s lives in Asian society. It is in our cultures that lacquer technique developed to its highest levels of sophistication. What is less well known is that Japanese and Southeast Asian lacquer art share a long history. For example, the Japanese “kinma" lacquer technique originated in Myanmar as the “kanyit” technique and reached Japan during the Edo era. After the Second World War, Japanese craftsmen taught lacquer art technology in Bagan. More recently, The Japan Foundation, OISCA held conferences and exchanges bringing several Myanmar lacquer craftsmen to Japan to learn about our lacquer industry
The Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Research Project renews and extends the contacts between the lacquer art cultures in our countries. We seek through research and exchanges to develop and invigorate the lacquer art of Asian countries and to increase mutual understanding among us.
The Project has been active in Myanmar since 2002. Professors from Tokyo University of the Arts as well as from universities in Tohoku, Hiroshima, and Kyoto--all well-known artists and researchers--have participated. Since 2004 We have conduct workshops and lectures at the Bagan Lacquerware Technology College. Bagan is the most important lacquer center in Myanmar. Each visit we bring lacquer experts with different areas of expertise to demonstrate Japanese techniques as well as to study the techniques used in the local lacquer industry.
In addition to Myanmar, we have conducted workshops and lectures in Laos.
1 Exchange program
Technical and cultural exchange
・ Lacquer artists and experts give lectures and the workshops to introduce Japanese lacquer art and education.
・ Qualified young teachers from the lacquer center in SE Asia are invited to Japan to study lacquer art education, the lacquer crafts industry, lacquer conservation, and other techniques.
2 - Lacquer Design
We offer advice on design and attempt to stimulate interest in new directions for Myanmar (Asian) lacquer art.
3 - Research into Asian lacquer
We do research on lacquer technique, materials and production throughout Asia, not just in Myanmar. Thus far, we have conducted research in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Bhutan
- Lacquerware industry
- The current situation of lacquerware production in SE Asia.
- Materials – lacquer refining and processing, base materials, (bamboo, wood, pigments, additives, etc.).
- Techniques – base shaping, (e.g. bamboo and horse hair), coating, ornamentation, etc.
- Culture Research into the use of lacquer
- in daily life
- in religious ceremonies by ethnic group
- The lacquer tree (melanorrhoea usitata) Research into:
- gathering techniques and seasons
- production economics
- Research into history of SE Asian lacquer art, its origins, development, relationship with and influence on lacquer art in SE Asia, China and Japan.
4 - Joint Asian Lacquer Art Exhibition
- Practice and proposition of lacquer art work with lacquer art artist and technician of each countries.
Since 2002, we have researched lacquer in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Bhutan. Since 2004 we have conduct workshops and lectures nine times at the Bagan Lacquerware Technology College. These workshops and lectures focused on the current state of lacquer in Japan and other Asian countries as well as introducing techniques such as “kinma”, “chinkin” and “kawarinuri”. We began a lacquer design project and held lectures focusing on the chemistry of lacquer. Between 2006 and 2009, we invited three young teachers from Myanmar to Japan to study lacquer art education, the lacquer crafts industry, lacquer conservation, and other techniques.
In addition, in 2011 we started exchange program at Luang Prabang Art School in Laos. There used to be traditional lacquer crafts in Laos. but it had almost disappeared except for a young teacher in the Art School studied in Bagan Lacquerware Technology College. We have conducted workshops and lectures in the Art School, and where students have shown great interest in lacquer art.
We reported these activities to the Utsunomiya University (bulletin), the Association of Bunkazai Urushi (bulletin), the Science Group of Urushi (lecture presentation), and the Urushi Summit (poster presentation), and other symposiums. (International Asian Lacquer Symposium, Buffalo State University of New York, 2013 / The Second International Conference Programme “Study of Oriental Lacquer Initiated by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for the Revitalization of Thai Wisdom”, Bangkok, 2015
We believe that it is important to continue our workshops and lectures to increase the exchange of lacquer craft knowledge in Asia. We will continue to report and disseminate our research findings and experiences in lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and publications to keep interested communities in Japan and Asia informed about the state of traditional crafts. Our goal is not only the revival of traditional craft industries, but more importantly the promotion of craft education increasing public awareness of our common cultural heritage.
From 2015 we will expand the exchange program to other Southeast Asian nations. The exchange program consists of workshops, lectures, and exhibitions. The workshops will introduce and demonstrate lacquer techniques and the lectures will discuss the current state lacquer crafts, art and education in each nation.
Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Research Project Executive Committee
Director : Sakurako Matsushima
Lacquer tree, Myanmar
Workshop & Lecture, Bagan, 2009
Workshop & Lecture, Bagan, 2008
Workshop & Lecture, Bagan, 2010
Workshop & Lecture, Laos, 2011
Demonstratiion in Bagan, 2014
If you have any questions about Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Research Project, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Research Project
Faculty of Education, Utsunomiya University, 350 Minemachi, Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan