Decorated Lacquerware Pillow Box BLW02


This distinctively shaped antique lacquerware ‘pillow box’ was made in Bagan, the center of lacquerware production. It is chiefly colored in natural black lacquer on the outside and pigment from cinnabar was used to create the red-orange color on the inside of the box and outlining the motifs. It has been skillfully decorated with images of peacocks and floral motifs.

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This antique lacquerware box has seen considerable use and there are minor chips and cracks present as illustrated in the photos. This is quite normal for lacquer boxes of this age that were in regular use.

To make lacquer containers, sap is drawn from the Melanorrhoeausitata tree found in north-eastern Burma. Pigments such as ochre, cinnabar, orpiment and indigo are added and mixed to achieve the desired color. A dozen or more coats are then applied to the base of the object (which may be bamboo or soft wood) resulting in a beautiful lustre that is waterproof and very durable. The object is then deftly decorated with a fine metal point which is used to etch grooves that are then filled with colored lacquer and sometimes gold leaf. The object is left to dry and then polished. This process is repeated several times and requires great skill, experience and time. A vessel of this size and level of detailed decoration would have taken 3-4 months to complete.

Width: 24cm, 9.5 in
Height: 15cm, 6 in
Depth: 9cm, 3.5in
Weight: 800g
Materials: jackfruit wood, woven bamboo, lacquer, pigment
Provenance: Burmese antique dealer
Period: Mid 20th century

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