Visions from the Golden Land: Burma and the Art of Lacquer
By Ralph Isaacs, et al


Lacquer is one of the most important artistic traditions of Burma - and also a living craft. Frequently used to decorate vessels of great style and variety, it is also important in the embellishment of architecture, furniture and musical instruments, in the making of sculpture and even in the Burmese theater. A natural plastic, refined from the sap of a tree, lacquer can be used to elaborate almost any surface, and its visual impact can be stunning - objects are dazzlingly colored, often in scarlet, gold and black, and are frequently inlaid with colored glass to produce an effect of shimmering irridescence.

Until now, Burmese art generally - let along this important branch - has been little studied. This beautifully illustrated book features some 200 items which demonstrate the skill of the Burmese lacquer-craftsman. Many of these came from a recent gift to the British Museum, the Ruth and Ralph Isaacs Collection, while others from national, regional and private collections. A series of essays examines the history of Burmese lacquer, the methods of production, the wide regional variations, the inscriptions found on many of the vessels (a new and important area of study), the role of lacquer vessels in the ubiquitous betel habit, and the Buddhist context of many of the objects.

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1999 Myriam Grest Thein