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Chinese Literature
Xiushilu 髹飾錄 "On Lacquer Decoration"


The Xiushilu 髹飾錄 "On lacquer decoration" is the only surviving traditional Chinese book on the art of lacquerwork. Zhu Zundu's 朱遵度 Qijing 漆經 "The book of lacquer" from the Five Dynasties period is lost. The Xiushilu was compiled by the late Ming period scholar and lacquering master Huang Cheng 黃成, courtesy name Huang Dacheng 黃大成. He camefrom Xin'an 新安 (modern Shexian 歙縣, Anhui). His book is a detailed description of the art of producing lacquer, various techniques to decorate vessels and objects with a lacquer coat, and the cosmological function of lacquer. He mentions and quotes from earlier books on this kind of crafts. The Xiushilu was first published in 1625 and was soon after revised and commented by Yang Ming 楊明, courtesy name Yang Qingzhong 楊清仲, from Xitang 西塘 near Jiaxing 嘉興, Zhejiang. Yang wrote a preface and added an extensive commentary that elucidated the many termini technici to the common reader.
The book has only survived in a Japanese manuscript copy in possession of Kimura Kōkyū 木村孔恭 (studio name Kenkakedō 蒹葭堂) that was republished by Zhu Qiqian 朱啟鈐 in 1927 in type-setting format. It has also been published in the collectanea Tuobachan congke 托跋廛叢刻 and Meishu congshu 美術叢書 (5th series).
The Xiushilu is divided into two parts called Celestial collection (Qianji 乾集) and Terrestrial collection (Kunji 坤集). The whole book consists of 18 chapters with 186 paragraphs. The first part mainly described the production and processing of the raw material, tools and implements. It also treats the many problems that can occur with lacquered objects, and how to discern antiques and forgeries, or to imitate and antique appearance. The second part is dedicated to the many lacquering techniques, like carved red lacquer, lacquer putty, embossed coloured lacquer, inlay, gold foil, or engraving. It does not only describe contemporary techniques, but also those of older ages, like the Tang 唐 (618-907) and Song 宋 (960-1279) periods, from which only a very small number of objects have survived until today. Techniques of lacquering have been neglected in China since the 1800s, and practical knowledge about these has become lost. The Xiushilu is therefore an extremely important source for the art of lacquering.
The most important annotated, illustrated and translated modern editions of the Xiushilu are Wang Shixiang's 王世襄 Xiushilu jieshuo 髹飾錄解說 from 1983, and the Xiushilu tushuo 髹飾錄圖說 by Chang Bei 長北 (i.e. Zhang Yan 張燕) from 2007.


Sources:
Wang Shixiang 王世襄 (1992). "Xiushilu 髹饰录", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Wenwu bowuguan 文物•博物館, p. 650. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
Zeng Kang 曾抗 (1996). "Xiushilu 髹飾錄", in: Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Keji 科技, p. 826. Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe.
Yang Boda 楊伯達 (1992). "Xiushilu 髹飾錄", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Qinggong 輕工, p. 532. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
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April 12, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail