Chinese lacquer decorations for Catholic European consumers in the 16th and 17th centuries: Stylistic and technical evolutions

Ulrike Körber, Michael Schilling, Cristina Maria Barrocas Dias

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The Catholic European presence in 16th- and 17th-century Asia promoted, through trade and missionary activities, the adaptation of indigenous crafts to foreign tastes and needs. One result was lacquered Luso-Asian items. Though variously classified in the past, their inconsistent characteristics called for deeper examination. This paper presents some of the findings of an in-depth, multidisciplinary doctoral study on 19 such specimens that revised our understanding of these artifacts and the period of their creation. Based on the results, the lacquer decorations could be stylistically and technically assigned to Chinese craftsmen in the service of Catholic Europeans. Interregional influences that took place within the framework of the Jesuit missions in Japan and China were illustrated particularly well by the nanban-like patterns on the religious artifacts, which instead were executed with traditional Chinese techniques that included the depiction of Chinese auspicious motifs. The more accurate classification of the examined artifacts achieved by our research demonstrates the fundamental importance of rigorous technologically based investigations of historical objects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranscending Boundaries
Subtitle of host publicationIntegrated Approaches to Conservation. ICOM-CC 19th Triennial Conference Preprints, Beijing, 17–21 May 2021
EditorsJanet Bridgland
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherInternational Council of Museums
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-491997-14-4
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021
EventICOM-CC 19th Triennal Conference : Transcending Boundaries: Integrated Approaches to Conservation - transformed to online event, Beijing, China
Duration: 17 May 202121 May 2021


ConferenceICOM-CC 19th Triennal Conference
Internet address


  • Lacquer analysis
  • Chinese lacquer
  • Laccol
  • Thitsi
  • Luso-Asian art
  • Nanban lacquer
  • Society of Jesus
  • Macau (Portugal)


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