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Tri-color Lacquerware of Yi Ethnic Group


Yi lacquerware are classic and natural, and the patterns on it are very closely related to our daily lives. They include scenery patterns, animal patterns, vegetation patterns and production patterns.

Color decoration, carving, mosaic and other production methods are employed on Yi lacquerware. Color decoration is most frequently used. Black is often used as the background color, and smooth lines and patterns are drawn on the surface. Mountains, rivers, birds, animals, flowers, grasslands, trees, fruits and vegetables can all be the subject of the pattern.

The craftsmen draw patterns directly onto the lacquerware without any draft. Drawing patterns on the lacquerware is complicated work. The craftsmen do not rely on any instrument; instead, they do it completely by their steady and accurate hand. It is said that the craftsmen first practice on substandard products. It takes half a year to master the skill.

The lacquerware’s color is interspersed with black, red and yellow. Black symbolizes dignity and decency, red symbolizes bravery and enthusiasm, and yellow symbolizes beauty and brightness. The use of the three colors represents the Yi people’s faith and conviction, and is culturally meaningful. The yellow and red paint are made from a mixture of natural mineral and resin. The three simple colors endow the lacquerware with a classic and dignified style.

The colored lacquerware are unique in Yi ethnic group’s traditional culture. The relationship its styles, colors and patterns have with Sichuan lacquerware is yet to be discovered. We may uncover some valuable information about the ancient Yi culture from it.

Translated by Jiang Haiwen

Editor: Liu Fang

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